The 9-seed Duquesne Dukes were a winner today, defeating Richmond 67-62. Freshman Chad Baker led the way on offense with 16 points on 7-11 shooting. The Dukes have had a bit of an up-and-down season, but they came to play against a hobbled Richmond team and pulled out a tough win. Michael Hughes and Marcus Weathers each had double-doubles and a couple of highlight reel blocks. It’s not easy scoring inside against this team, and Richmond found that out the hard way time and again in the second half.
What a year for the Richmond Spiders, and I do not mean that in a good way. Picked first in the preseason poll, Nick Sherrod suffered a torn ACL before the season started, and Richmond endured three COVID pauses over the course of the season, before losing to St. Joe’s in the final game of the regular season, falling from a double-bye to the 8 seed. The Spiders went out with a whimper, not a bang, ending their season making no field goals in the final nine minutes of the game as Blake Francis was out with a back injury and Grant Golden tried to play through a broken finger. This year will always be a “what-if” for the Spiders, and I can’t think of a more painful way for the season to end for them.
UMass bounced back from its 21 point loss to SLU in a massive way. The Minutemen routed Ryan Daly and St. Joe’s from the get-go, with an 18-0 run on their way to dropping 59 points in just the first half. UMass cracked the century mark, securing the 100-66 victory. Ronnie DeGray led the way with 19 points on 8-11 shooting, but the whole team got involved as UMass drained 15 three pointers. UMass looks like a much more dangerous team than the one that played SLU on Monday, and they’ll have their chance at revenge tomorrow.
Loser: St. Joe’s
Perhaps everyone went a little bit overboard on the St. Joe’s and Ryan Daly hype train after they beat La Salle in the Pillow Fight for their fourth straight win. I know I did. But what a fun ride it was! Ultimately the Hawks just couldn’t hit shots and they couldn’t stop UMass and that’s a recipe for losing by 36. Not the best way for Ryan Daly to end his career at St. Joe’s, but it’s been a hell of a ride.
Dayton pulled out the 84-72 win over Rhody, on the backs of seniors Ibi Watson and Jalen Crutcher. Watson in particular was impressive today, scoring 25 points and hitting 6-11 from deep. Watson has one of the prettiest shots in the A10, launching high-arching bombs that land oh-so-gently in the net. Freshmen R.J. Blakney and Kody Brea also had good games, each scoring 8 points and hitting 2 threes apiece. Dayton have been the kings of chaos this year, and then have a chance to continue that by knocking off 1-seed VCU tomorrow.
Loser: Rhode Island
With an 84-72 loss, the Fatts Russell era at URI has ended. Rhody played it close for a lot of the game, but once Allen Betrand suffered a serious-looking knee injury, the wind went out of the Rams’ sails. It was a tough year for Russell, marked by team turnover before the season started, and a bunch of injuries once it got going. Russell nearly had a triple double today, scoring 9 points and adding 8 rebounds and 8 assists, but he also hurt his left wrist and was noticeably grimacing towards the end of the game. Fatts has been one of the best players in the A10 these past 4 years and he’s a player that will remain in A10 fans’ memory for a long time. A tough way for his career to end, but Rhody fans surely are grateful for all he’s achieved as a Ram.
Winner: George Mason
It wasn’t pretty, but George Mason punched its ticket to the quarterfinals with a 73-59 win over George Washington. Freshman Ronald Polite came up huge, hitting a late dagger from deep and scoring 17 points, by far a career high. Jordan Miller had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds as well. The game was much closer than the score, however, and Mason is going to need to play a bit better if it is to have a shot and toppling Davidson tomorrow.
Loser: George Washington
James Bishop is always a shooter, it’s just a matter of if he makes his shot or not. Bishop notched a career high 29 on 9-24 shooting, and he had stretches where he couldn’t miss. It looked for a time that the Colonials might be the first Pillow Fight team to make it to Friday, but GW ran out of gas at the end and Mason pulled away. It was an ugly game, and no one would say otherwise. Kudos to GW, though, they fought the whole time even if they came up short in the end.