Fore’s FT lifts Richmond past VCU, 77-76
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Richmond had already had one of its best players helped off the floor suffering from cramps, and was in the process of trying to overcome a 12-point second-half deficit against its arch rival. The Robins Center was packed and electric. It was no time to shrink from the task at hand, Nick Sherod said.
Khwan Fore’s free throw with 3.8 seconds left capped that comeback, giving the Spiders a 77-76 victory against VCU on Wednesday night.
“We just knew that we had to pick him up and that he wanted us to keep fighting,” Sherod said of De’Monte Buckingham, who went down behind the VCU basket with the cramps with just over eight minutes to play. He remained on the floor for several minutes before being helped toward the locker room.
“In a game like that, that’s the guy that you think would ignite the rally,” Spiders coach Chris Mooney said of Buckingham. The 6-foot-4 guard is third on the team in scoring, the team leader in rebounding and was selected last season as the conference’s rookie of the year.
The Spiders, though, had confidence they could get it done because they had done it before, in a 67-52 win at VCU on Jan. 17.
“I think the biggest thing, especially because of the way the last game went, we knew we could do it and just had to stick to it,” Sherod said.
Sherod and Jacob Gilyard each scored 18 points for the Spiders (9-14, 7-4 Atlantic 10), who won their sixth in seven games. Grant Golden added 16 points and nine rebounds and Fore scored 15. He also knocked away a length of the court pass on the Rams’ attempt for a miracle finish.
Justin Tillman scored 21 points and Issac Vann and De’Riante Jenkins had 14 each for VCU (14-10, 6-5). The Rams, who were swept in the season series by Richmond, also fell out of the three-way tie for fourth in the league they shared with Richmond and Saint Bonaventure to start the night.
“We just didn’t finish at the end,” first-year Rams coach Mike Rhoades said “It cost us. It cost us dearly.”
The Rams trailed 51-50 with 14 minutes to play before Vann scored, followed that basket with a steal and a dunk and then, after another turnover by the Spiders, followed a teammate’s miss with a tip-in. By the time the run was finished, VCU held a 65-53 lead with 8½ minutes remaining.
Fore scored on a drive to stop the Rams run and Sherod scored 10 points and Gilyard had nine in the closing minutes to rally the Spiders. He also stole an inbounds pass and laid it in, tying the game at 76 with 31 seconds remaining. The free throw by Fore put the Spiders ahead, setting off a wild crowd celebration.
VCU: The Rams, without senior point guard Johnny Williams, don’t really have an ideal replacement and went first with sophomore Malik Crowfield and then freshman Tyler Maye, but both picked up two personal fouls in the first half and accounted for three assists in 15 combined minutes.
Richmond: In Fore, Richmond already had one of the quickest guards in the country, and he’s been surpassed as their fastest player by Gilyard, a 5-foot-9 whirling dervish who also had six assists and five steals. Gilyard showed off his speed with a dazzling play late in the first half when he made a steal, chased the ball down just before it went out of bounds and fed Joe Kirby all alone under the basket for an easy lay-in.
VCU is at home against Dayton, coached by former Rams coach Anthony Grant. The Flyers beat the Rams 106-79 in Ohio on Jan. 12.
Richmond is at Saint Bonaventure, the other winner among the teams tied for fourth coming into the night.