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Experience leads Richmond to cusp of first NCAA Tournament since 2011

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The Spiders have four players who are using at least their fifth year of eligibility

2022 A10 Men’s Basketball Tournament - Dayton v Richmond Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Richmond doesn’t only have seniority; it has super seniority. With four players returning for at least one extra season, the Spiders are one of the oldest teams in the nation, the 18th oldest at that.

With age comes experience, especially in diverse situations. The Spiders trailed by 15 in its A10 semifinal on Saturday to win by a final score of 68-64. They could’ve just quit when down, but that’s not why they all came back. Not to fall short of the NCAA Tournament yet again.

Last season, Richmond was the preseason mid-major darling. Just like Saint Bonaventure this season, the Spiders were ranked in the top 25 early in the season after beating Kentucky. It looked like the Spiders were going to sit pretty.

They didn’t though. Richmond would fall short with a 14-9 record, not even making it to the A10 quarterfinals. Luckily, most players had one last chance to come back and make one last push to the big dance, now they’re only a win away.

“It means a lot, that what all of these guys came back for, that’s what I came back for - to have this opportunity with this group of guys,” forward Grant Golden said after Saturday's game.

Golden led the Spiders’ to its comeback win on Saturday over Dayton with 18 points and nine rebounds. All season Golden has played like an all-league member, leading the team in the percentage of shots taken while also ranking in the top 200 of defensive rating and assist rate.

To accompany him in the backcourt, the Spiders are venomous, playing their best basketball of the season.

It starts with the second-most used player in college basketball, Jacob Gilyard.

Gilyard scored a career-high 32 points against Richmond on Thursday. He also happened to have the most steals in the nation (102) and is shooting 86% from the free-throw line.

His backcourt mate, Nick Sherod, has developed a bench role but is a focal part of this program. He returned twice after tearing his ACL in two separate seasons but not has not given up on his hoop dreams.

Then lastly beside them all is Nathan Cayo. In January, he tied the game against Davidson on a tip-in with 11 seconds remaining. Now his boys will try to make it easier and clinch its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011.

Imagine saying that to the Richmond fans who created the “Fire Mooney” billboard in DC a few years ago.

Richmond are only 40 minutes away from the university’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament in a long time. If the game gets close within the final minutes, don’t be shocked to see Richmond’s experience kicking in.

Where to Watch

Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Tip Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Television: CBS

DraftKings Betting Line: Davidson -3.5, O/U 136.5