The Richmond Spiders had an excellent senior night as Senior Guard Kendall Anthony scored 15 points in his final home game and senior walk-on Zack Chu scored the final 2 points of the game. The Spiders defeated the Saint Louis Billikens, 67-51, in the final regular season match up for each team before the Atlantic 10 conference tournament begins on Wednesday.
The Billikens end the regular season, 11-20 (3-15 in Atlantic 10 play), on a four game losing streak. They will enter the Atlantic 10 conference tournament as the No. 14 seed. Last season, the Billikens were the No. 1 seed, but were knocked out by the St. Bonaventure Bonnies in their quarterfinal match up. The full impact of their 5 senior starters leaving from last season has been realized as they went from first to last in the conference standings.
The teams played fairly even over the opening 8 minutes of the game. On Richmond Guard Kendall Anthony’s senior night, he initially struggled to get going, but knocked down a huge 3-pointer at the 12:10 mark of the first half to reclaim the lead for the Spiders. This bucket opened a 9-0 run to give the Spiders a 21-12 advantage with 10:25 left in the first half.
Saint Louis Guard Achraf Yacoubou responded to the Richmond run by scoring 6 straight points to cut the Spiders advantage to 6 points. Yacoubou aggressively slashed into the lane to get easy bucket around the rim. He is a good driver, but sometimes struggles to finish around the rim. However, in this small spurt, he looked controlled and was able to convert. Guard Marcus Bartley hit a 3-pointer to cut the Spiders lead down to 3 points, 26-23, but that was the closest to SLU came in their comeback effort.
The Spiders went on an 8-0 run to increase their lead back into double-digits. Guard T.J. Cline scored 5 straight points during this run by knocking down a 3-pointer and making an easy layup on a failed defense switch by the Billikens. Anthony capped off the run with some free throws to give himself his 11th point in the first half.
Anthony’s play and SLU’s ability not to carry their momentum is why the Spiders were able to go up 9 points by halftime. The Spiders shot 56 percent in the first half while SLU went 11-30 from the field in the first half.
Richmond carried their momentum in the second half by getting two quick 3-pointers from Cline and Guard ShawnDre’ Jones to reclaim a double-digit lead. SLU struggled out of the gate in the second half. After getting a bucket from Forward Reggie Agbeko, the Bills went on an over 3 minute scoring drought. These scoring droughts have been common for the Billikens this season and this one came at an inopportune time as SLU never cut the lead back into single-digits.
The back breaker for the Billikens was a steal by Richmond and then the Spider play found a cutting Kendall Anthony for his final points of the night. Anthony’s layup gave the Spiders a 16 point lead and forced SLU’s Head Coach Jim Crews to call a timeout out of frustration.
The Spiders cruised to victory from there, however, they had a special moment as senior walk-on Zack Chu was substituted in for Anthony with about a minute to go in the game. Chu was fouled with a few seconds remaining and knocked down two free throws for Richmond’s final two points of the game.
The victory was huge for the Spiders as they were able to claim the No. 4 seed in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament. This means that they will have a double-bye, which gives them an extra day of rest. The Spiders had the tiebreaker over the VCU Rams after defeating them twice during the regular season.
For the Billikens, this game did not affect their conference rankings as they were locked into the No. 14 seed.
Saint Louis will play the No. 11 seed Duquesne Dukes on Wednesday, March 11th at 9 p.m. eastern time at the Barclays Center. The Richmond Spiders will play the winner of the VCU vs. Fordham/George Mason match up on Friday, March 13th at 2:30 p.m. eastern time.