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Spiders engage passing game to subdue Minutemen 79-65

Spiders engage passing game to subdue Minutemen 79-65

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UR's Grant Golden has 13 assists in the Spiders' last two games, both victories.

By the time those on UMass’ bench yelled the “door” part of “Watch the backdoor!” another University of Richmond layup was being converted.

The Spiders on Tuesday night at the Robins Center engaged their passing game on the way to to a 79-65 win.

The Minutemen hadn’t played since Feb. 6 for coronavirus-related reasons, and this was the fifth time this season they had gone at least a week between games. UR (13-5, 6-3 A-10) took advantage of a step-slow guest.

Grant Golden (16 points on 7-of-8 shooting), Richmond’s 6-foot-10 forward, had five assists after dishing eight in Saturday’s win over Duquesne.

“That’s a special talent for a big man to have,” said guard Blake Francis (20 points). “It makes him more dangerous when he can pass and see over double-teams and over a defense. It definitely makes everybody better on the team and gets guys easy looks.”

Guard Jacob Gilyard had six assists to go with nine rebounds, four steals and 9 points. Seventeen assists partnered with 28 UR field goals.

“That’s just us running the offense and just sticking to what we know,” Francis said. “When we can move the ball around and get the ball flowing, we’re most likely going to end up with a good shot.”

Both teams are trying to secure a top-four finish in the A-10, the prize being a double-bye in the league tournament that begins next week in Richmond.

The Minutemen (7-5, 6-3 A-10) played man-to-man, zone, and also threw some full-court pressure at the Spiders. Not much bothered them this night.

“We looked terrific at times on offense, really moved the ball very nicely,” UR coach Chris Mooney said. “To face that much pressure and only have 6 turnovers is a great statistic.”

Francis scored 17 first-half points. Forward Nathan Cayo finished with 18.

Gilyard had four first-half assists and Golden added three. That was the lubrication that made Richmond’s offense smoothly run. When the Spiders had the ball, it found the open man.

Mooney called the Minutemen “long and athletic and fast. They play hard. And so, it’s going to be very important to pass the ball well against them because you can find yourself in trouble pretty quickly.”

Saturday at the Robins Center, the Spiders struggled to contain the interior players of Duquesne. UR won 79-72, but Michael Hughes (20 points, 9 rebounds) and Marcus Weathers (12 points, 9 rebounds) were a handful.

Tuesday, the Spiders faced one of the premier big men in the A-10, 6-9, 240-pound sophomore Tre Mitchell, who was averaging 20 points and 7.4 rebounds in the nine games he played. Because of a shoulder injury, Mitchell hadn’t participated in a game since Jan. 24.

Mitchell was limited in the first half by two quick fouls, and scored 9.

Next: Richmond visits Saint Louis on Friday (7 p.m., ESPN2) in the Spiders’ penultimate regular-season game. SLU was scheduled to play at UR on Jan. 29, and traveled to Richmond. The Billikens chose not to play, citing “COVID-19 concerns raised by the Saint Louis medical staff.”

Richmond closes at home against Saint Joseph’s on Monday at 6 p.m., and the A-10 tournament starts on March 3 at VCU’s Siegel Center. Part of the tournament will be played at UR, with the final held at Dayton on March 14.

FG FT Reb

UMASS M M-A M-A O-T A PF PT

DeGray 23 2-5 3-4 1-5 1 3 7

Gasperini 11 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 3 0

Garcia 29 4-8 0-0 1-4 5 3 10

Pierre 36 3-13 1-3 1-4 2 1 7

Weeks 31 5-9 1-2 0-5 0 0 14

T.Mitchell 22 4-8 1-1 0-4 2 4 9

Fernandes 19 1-5 0-2 2-3 2 1 3

Dominguez 18 5-7 4-4 0-2 1 1 15

McCrory 8 0-0 0-0 0-2 0 3 0

Totals 200 24-55 10-16 5-30 13 20 65

Percentages: FG .436, FT .625. 3-Point Goals: 7-27, .259 (Weeks 3-7, Garcia 2-4, Dominguez 1-3, Fernandes 1-3, DeGray 0-2, T.Mitchell 0-2, Pierre 0-6). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocks: 8 (Garcia 2, T.Mitchell 2, Dominguez, Gasperini, McCrory, Weeks). Turnovers: 10 (DeGray 4, McCrory 2, Fernandes, Gasperini, Pierre, T.Mitchell). Steals: 2 (Pierre 2). Technical: coach Matt McCall, 1:00 second.

FG FT Reb

UR M M-A M-A O-T A PF PT

Burton 25 2-8 0-0 2-5 0 3 4

Cayo 32 8-14 2-2 1-7 3 4 18

Golden 25 7-8 2-6 1-5 5 1 16

Francis 37 7-15 1-2 0-5 1 2 20

Gilyard 39 1-8 6-8 1-9 6 1 9

Gustavson 19 2-3 2-2 0-1 1 1 7

Grace 13 1-2 3-4 0-0 1 2 5

Koureissi 4 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Wilson 4 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Totals 200 28-59 16-24 5-32 17 15 79

Percentages: FG .475, FT .667. 3-Point Goals: 7-20, .350 (Francis 5-9, Gustavson 1-1, Gilyard 1-6, Cayo 0-1, Grace 0-1, Burton 0-2). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocks: 3 (Cayo, Golden, Grace). Turnovers: 6 (Cayo 4, Burton, Gilyard). Steals: 7 (Gilyard 4, Francis, Golden, Koureissi).

Massachusetts 32 33 — 65

Richmond 43 36 — 79

joconnor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6233

@RTDjohnoconnor

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