A wild a crazy comeback by the Rhode Island Rams fell just short tonight as they lost a wild one, 64-61 to the Richmond Spiders. In a game that looked like it was all but over at 60-42 with under 5:00 to play, URI went on a 17-0 run to cut the lead to one with 30 seconds to play before coming up just short. Richmond led wire-to-wire, and every time Rhody made a run, the Spiders were able to answer. The Rams now drop to 5-9 on the season and 0-1 in Atlantic 10 conference play.
Richmond came out strong, using their strong guard play and three-point shooting to build a lead that was as high as 12 in the first half. Richmond led 38-28 at the break and shot over 48% from the field in the first half. The second half was much of the same – every time Rhody made a run, Richmond would answer. And conversely, every time it looked as if the Spiders would pull away, the Rams clawed their way back into it. But after Richmond used a 16-4 run to turn a 40-36 lead into a 56-40 advantage, this one looked to be pretty well over. The Rhody offense was sputtering and the game was slipping away from them.
But if you turned it off at 60-42, you missed some fireworks. All of a sudden everything started clicking for the Rams, and especially Xavier Munford. After a Mike Aaman and-1, X drained back-to-back-to-back threes – the third coming from where the CVS logo would be at the Ryan Center – to cut the lead to six. A free throw from T.J. Buchanan, a tip-in off a miss for Ryan Brooks, and an ice cold step-back jumper from Munford cut the lead to one with under a minute to play. After a URI foul and two free-throws from Richmond’s Kendall Anthony, Rhody brought the ball up with 20 seconds to play. Spiders head coach Chris Mooney decided to have his players foul, and Rhody got the ball in the hands of (who else?) Munford. As Munford was getting fouled, he launched up a three that air-balled out of bounds… but the officials somehow missed the foul. Richmond fouled him multiple times, and they almost had him in a bear hug as the shot was going up – no call. Even the Spiders’ announcers thought Richmond lucked out; it should have been three shots for the Rams and a chance to tie. (As a side note, for those that clamor for teams to foul up three in the final minute, this is what can potentially go wrong.) In any event, it was the Spiders ball instead, and they hit the free-throws they needed to make to put the game away.
The game wasn’t won or lost on this call, however. Rhody found themselves way behind by their own doing, and just didn’t leave themselves any room for error as they tried to get back in it. For Richmond, Darien Brothers led the scoring with 15 points on just 3-8 shooting. Greg Robbins was big inside for the Spiders, adding 11 points and 7 rebounds before fouling out. And Deion Taylor came off the bench to score 11 for Richmond, his first career game in double-figures. For Rhody, Munford led all scorers with 25 points, 17 of them coming in the second half, 13 in the final five minutes. (As a side note, can we start telling Munford that the 7:00 game start at 6:00? Seems like it takes him an hour or so to get hot.) Mike Aaman came through with a monster game down low, posting 13 points and 12 board for the double-double. The freshman big man also added two blocks in his 20 minutes of play.
All in all, Rhody can’t feel too bad coming away from this one. They put together a heck of a comeback on the road, and fell just short against a very good shooting team. The no-quit attitude is going to take them a long way in conference play – they just need to stop getting themselves into such big holes to climb out of. We’ll have much more on this wild one coming up tomorrow.