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Rams control UR on the glass, pull away late for 68-56 win

Rams control UR on the glass, pull away late for 68-56 win

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As expected, turnovers surfaced as a major component in the Richmond-at-VCU game Wednesday night. The ones the Rams usually cause didn’t show up. The ones they committed nearly cost them their sixth straight victory in a low-possession game.

VCU, however, surged at the end of both halves and controlled the glass to put away the Spiders 68-56, fortifying the Rams’ NCAA tournament portfolio and increasing the pressure on the Spiders to make some hay in the regular-season’s last leg.

VCU (16-4, 9-2 A-10) led 53-52 with 7 minutes left, and the offensive efficiency faded for Richmond (11-5, 4-3 A-10). The Spiders looked tired, which was understandable. They hadn’t played a Division I game since Jan. 26. UR shot 33%.

VCU outrebounded UR 43-27. The Rams have won 18 of the last 34 meetings, and 10 of the last 13.

Guard Bones Hyland led VCU with an efficient 20 (7 for 12), and forward Nathan Cayo scored 18 for the Spiders, who committed only six turnovers. VCU had 16, most unforced. The Rams’ opponents were averaging 18 turnovers.

The evening started poorly for Richmond, with 1-of-8 shooting and two fouls on leading scorer Blake Francis (16.6 ppg) before the first media timeout. Francis returned in the first half, but starting UR forward Tyler Burton went to the bench with his second foul 13 minutes into this 86th meeting. Rams forward Levi Stockard also experienced foul issues.

VCU’s nine first-half turnovers allowed Richmond to stick around. The Rams led 32-24 at the break. They came in forcing an average of 18 turnovers, but UR guard Jacob Gilyard easily dealt with token pressure, and was a pain-in-the-neck defender on Hyland, who was averaging 19 points.

The Spiders defended more physically inside to start the second half, and took a 37-36 lead with 15 minutes left. They hadn’t been ahead since 20-18.

Richmond, coming out of a COVID-19 pause, outclassed Division III St. Mary’s (Md.) 90-49 Sunday evening at the Robins Center in an attempt to quickly work back into game shape.

The Spiders’ stamina was a major concern for UR coach Chris Mooney, and it seemed well-founded. Richmond missed shots it typically hits, and was late in its defensive retreat, allowing a few transition openings.

After Cayo missed an uncontested shot at the rim’s lip, Mooney’s hands went to his head. His Spiders shot 32% before halftime and hit two 3-pointers. They were averaging 8. They finished 3 for 19 from 3-point range.

Two seasons ago, Cayo went 10 for 22 from the free throw line in two games against the Rams. He believed VCU was intentionally fouling him because he struggled all year from the line. That shot has been streamlined and improved. Cayo went 8 of 9 from the line Wednesday.

Next: The Rams spring back into game action Saturday against visiting George Mason (2:30 p.m., NBCSN), which VCU defeated 66-61 in Fairfax on Jan. 6.

The Spiders host Duquesne on Saturday (4:30 p.m., NBCSN). Duquesne and Richmond were scheduled to meet Dec. 19. That game at UR was postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests at DU, which hasn’t played since Feb. 2.

FG FT Reb

RICHMOND M M-A M-A O-T A PF PT

Burton 26 1-7 0-0 0-3 0 2 2

Cayo 37 5-11 8-9 3-8 1 3 18

Golden 30 2-12 4-6 2-6 1 1 8

Francis 30 5-17 1-1 1-2 3 4 12

Gilyard 40 4-10 0-0 0-5 5 2 9

Gustavson 21 1-3 0-2 2-3 0 4 2

Grace 10 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

Koureissi 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Wilson 3 2-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 5

Totals 200 20-63 13-18 8-27 11 17 56

Percentages: FG .317, FT .722. 3-Point Goals: 3-21, .143 (Wilson 1-1, Gilyard 1-5, Francis 1-9, Golden 0-1, Gustavson 0-2, Burton 0-3). Team Rebounds: 2. Team Turnovers: 1. Blocked Shots: 3 (Burton, Golden, Gustavson). Turnovers: 6 (Francis 2, Gilyard 2, Koureissi). Steals: 7 (Cayo 2, Francis 2, Golden 2, Gilyard).

FG FT Reb

VCU M M-A M-A O-T A PF PT

Stockard 16 2-3 0-0 0-1 0 4 4

Ward 29 5-8 1-2 1-7 2 1 11

Williams 31 1-6 4-5 2-4 2 2 7

Baldwin 37 3-8 4-5 1-7 4 2 10

Hyland 35 7-12 4-4 0-12 6 1 20

Watkins 20 5-8 0-0 1-3 3 1 10

Douglas 16 1-3 0-0 1-4 3 1 2

Brown-Jones 8 2-2 0-0 1-2 1 3 4

Curry 8 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 0

Totals 200 26-51 13-16 7-41 21 15 68

Percentages: FG .510, FT .813. 3-Point Goals: 3-15, .200 (Hyland 2-6, Williams 1-3, Curry 0-1, Ward 0-1, Watkins 0-1, Baldwin 0-3). Team Rebounds: 2. Team Turnovers: None. Blocked Shots: 7 (Ward 2, Douglas, Hyland, Stockard, Watkins, Williams). Turnovers: 15 (Williams 5, Baldwin 3, Stockard 2, Ward 2, Curry, Hyland, Watkins). Steals: 3 (Baldwin 2, Hyland).

Richmond 24 32 — 56

VCU 32 36 — 68

joconnor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6233

@RTDjohnoconnor

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