Spiders Fall to Canes in a Tale of Two Halves, 63-61

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Tonight’s Richmond vs. Miami NIT match-up was another game in a long line of many that will go down as a tale of two halves.

Kendall Anthony’s farewell performance at the Robins Center this evening had an inauspicious start to it. Anthony was 1-6 from the floor to start the game but you wouldn’t have known it by watching his teammates.

The Spiders, on the verge of a trip to New York and the semi-finals of the NIT, completely frustrated the Miami Hurricanes in every aspect of the game for the first twenty minutes and jumped out to a 30-18 lead.

TJ Cline started things off with back-to-back 3-pointers for UR and the Spiders never looked back, getting out to a 10-2 lead after 6 minutes.  Miami looked completely rattled right from the jump.  The Canes shot 9-30 (30%) from the floor; many times playing right into UR’s hands with poor shots against a set defense.

Terry Allen was the best player on the floor for the first 20.  He had 10 points, 5 rebounds, and a blocked shot that could be felt in Del Boca Vista.

Allen and company combined to hit 12 of 28 shots from the floor and that includes going 1-11 from 3-point range after Cline’s two early makes.

The halftime score might have been 30-18 but it felt like about 45-5.

Somewhere in my notes, with about 8 minutes to go in the half, I wrote that Richmond might regret not capitalizing on some strong offensive opportunities.

The second half began with Cline and Anthony hitting 3’s to take the Spider lead up to 36-18 but then Miami decided it was time to upgrade its tropical storm-esque effort into something a little bit tougher.

A 7-0 Hurricane run managed to cut the lead to 37-25. Ja’Quan Newton had a nice drive and finish at the rim, Sheldon McClellan hit a contested 3, Davon Reed made a couple of free throws, and all of a sudden things got interesting.

The Spiders answered.  Anthony, Cline, and Taylor all hit shots and Richmond got its lead back up to 43-29.

Miami wasn’t finished by a long shot though and made another run at the Spiders by getting the ball inside the lane and attacking the glass like a bunch of maniacs. Four offensive rebounds by the Canes in one possession got Miami and lay-up and cut the Spider lead to 51-42 with 6:30 left to play.  Miami wound up with a 47 to 32 advantage on the boards with 17 of them being offensive.

I don’t think anyone in the Robins Center saw what was coming next.  A 21-10 run by Miami to end the game.

It seemed like the harder the Spiders tried to stop the Miami run, the more Miami prospered.  Coaches call it a “quicksand game.”  You just can’t get out of your own way.

Quicksand described in a possession-by-possession format:

A couple of free throws from the Canes and a ShawnDré Jones airball had the score at 51-44.

What looked like a pretty blatant offensive foul on Ja’Quan Newton doesn’t get called and a couple of free throws later, it is 51-46 with 5 minutes to go.

Jones hits two big free throws to stop the Miami run. 53-46 with 4:00 minutes to go.

UR’s Taylor clanks two free throws and Miami gets a Davon Reed lay-in to cut the score to 53-48.

Jim Larranga decides to go with full court pressure out of the final TV timeout and it results in Shawndré Jones throwing the ball away.  After Davon Reed hits both of his free throws, the score is now 53-50.

Cline breaks pressure and gets a pull-up in the paint to stretch the lead to 55-50.

Miami’s Jekiri hits 2 free throws off of another offensive rebound and the score is now55-52.

Miami ties it 55-55 on a McClellan 3.

Miami takes the lead on a McClellan drive. Hurricanes now lead 57-55 with 49 seconds left to play.

Coming out of a timeout, Anthony breaks down the defense and drives the lane.  He kicks out to the permitter but Cline misses the open 3.

Richmond is forced to foul and Miami makes free throws

Anthony misses drive to the rim.

Miami makes free throws.

A tale of two halves. Miami outscored the Spiders 45-31 in the second half.

The Hurricanes went from incredibly passive, settling for outside jumpers against Richmond’s match-up zone, to incredibly aggressive. They dominated the glass in the final 10 minutes and muscled their way to a victory.

Over the final 10 minutes of the game, Miami just played far more aggressive basketball, got a few lucky breaks, and walked away with a win.

Kendall Anthony’s night ended as badly as it started and that is a real shame. He will go down in A10 history as one of the greats to ever play the point guard position in the conference.

This loss will hurt for a while but the Spiders will move on.  Richmond is primed for a huge season next year with four starters returning and some nice new talent to add to the mix.  This is only the beginning for those guys.

Tonight provided another example of how college hoops gives us the best drama you can find. Well, hoops or some Charles Dickens.

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Brian Keiper is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a M.Ed from University of Richmond. He teaches, coaches, and spends way too much time involved with local basketball in Richmond, Virginia but wouldn't have it any other way.

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