Saint Francis (0-2,0-0 NEC): 98
Richmond (1-0,0-0 Atlantic 10): 100
Facing a 10-point deficit with 100 seconds remaining in regulation, the Spiders chances of securing a season-opening win vs Saint Francis were slim. But Richmond used a suffocating full-court press and a pair of three-pointers to rip off a 12-2 run to end the second half and outlasted the Red Flash in overtime for a 100-98 win Friday night at the Robins Center.
A corner three by newcomer Blake Francis, a junior transfer who last played for Wagner in 2017-18, cut the deficit to seven, and a deep three-pointer by Nick Sherod, playing in his first game since tearing his ACL last November, 15 seconds later shrunk Saint Francis’ lead to five.
Freshman Tyler Burton made it a one-possession game with just under a minute left when he stole the ball at halfcourt and sprinted to the hoop for a dunk to make the score 89-86.
Following a Red Flash free throw, Jacob Gilyard cut the lead to two with a driving layup. Moments later, he intercepted a Saint Francis pass and was fouled. Gilyard’s two free throws tied the game at 90, and Richmond’s defense held Saint Francis to a wild shot on the final possession of regulation to force overtime.
Neither team could get separation in the extra period as the Spiders and Red Flash traded baskets for the first four minutes. Richmond edged ahead 99-97 on a Nathan Cayo layup with 55 seconds remaining and took a three-point lead on a Gilyard free throw with 10 seconds remaining. The Spiders intentionally sent the Red Flash to the line with just under two seconds remaining and secured the win when Gilyard dribbled out the clock following a free-throw violation by the Red Flash when Keith Braxton’s second free-throw attempt, an intentional miss, failed to hit the rim.
“I knew we had to make a run,” said Sherod of the Spiders comeback in regulation. “At that point in the game it’s not really about running any plays or about doing anything special it’s about trying to go score and playing harder than them. We had been in this situation before against VCU a couple years ago so we knew we had a chance to come back. I think we showed some maturity as a team. We knew the guys we needed to get the ball to down the stretch to score.”
Sherod finished with a game-high 27 points in his first game since tearing his left ACL against Hampton on November 25 last season, 348 days prior to Friday.
“I’m so happy for Nick,” said coach Chris Mooney. “I’ve been telling people that I thought he was better than ever and right on cue he showed that. He played a tremendous game and not only did he have 27 points but he must have had three or four really big rebounds down the stretch.”
Sherod’s eight total rebounds were tied with Grant Golden for the most on the team. Gilyard added 24 points and a team-high eight assists for the Spiders , who won their season opener for the first time since 2016.
Richmond will look for its first 2-0 start 2013 Thursday night against Vanderbilt at the Robins Center. Tip time is 7 PM and the game will be shown on NBC Sports Washington and ESPN Plus.