By Ryan Lazo
RICHMOND — There comes a moment in every game where big-time players step up and do what’s necessary for his team to win the game. For the game’s first 23:17, Cedrick Lindsay was a shadow of himself.
The Spiders leading returning scorer and one of the top returning scorers in the Atlantic 10 Conference at 20 points per game last season, had attempted just two shots, missed them both and had little if any impact on the court. Richmond was never in danger of being blown out, but the Belmont Bruins were keeping within striking distance.
Staring at the newly redesigned high-definition scoreboard, the score was there for Lindsay and the Richmond fans in attendance to see: 36-36. It was enough for Lindsay to realize it was his time to take control and elevate the play of his teammates in the process.
Lindsay took a quick crossover move at the top of the key before letting one rip from right behind the foul line for his first bucket of the game at the 16:43 mark of the second half. The senior followed it up with a drive through the lane and a nifty pass to Derrick Williams for a lay-in, followed by five consecutive points — three of those on a traditional 3-point play.
“In the first half, I felt like I let them down with bad plays and terrible turnovers at the top,” Lindsay said after helping to lead Richmond to a 69-61 victory over Belmont. “The rest of the guys picked me up in the locker room … I came out and they really helped me make plays by setting good screens. I was able to get myself going through them.”
Lindsay’s final shooting line of 2-of-8 from the field doesn’t scream star, but it was his ability to get into the lane to draw fouls which helped Richmond (2-0) gain a 13-point lead they would not relinquish. The Third-Team All-Conference selection made 11-of-13 free throws, including three inside of the last minute when the Bruins (1-1) pulled within three, 64-61.
Yet, perhaps the biggest shot of the game belonged to a sophomore who came off the bench, scoring just 5 points, but three of them on one huge sequence. With 1:12 remaining, Belmont trailed by just four while the Spiders had not scored a field goal in over eight minutes of play.
The Len Robins crowd sensed a turning point was forthcoming, stood up from their seats and belted out a raucous cheer when 6-foot-5 Trey Davis rolled to the basket, drew a foul and finished his shot, completing a three-point play and a seven-point swing.
“He was terrific. He was all over the place and had some highlight-type rebounds offensively,” Spiders’ head coach Chris Mooney said of Davis’ 5-point, 11-rebound effort. “His traditional three-point bucket was the biggest shot of the game … he can score and do a lot of things.”
And it was Davis and the rest of Richmond’s assortment of forwards who truly made the biggest impact on the game.
The Spiders out-rebounded the Bruins, 38-35 and outscored them in the paint by a 36-34 margin. It’s made even more impressive when noticing Belmont held a 10-2 edge in points in the paint early in the first half. In fact, seven of the nine Richmond players to appear in the game grabbed at least three boards, showcasing the winning mentality of the team.
“Our big guys in the paint — Trey, Derrick and Terry rebounded really well,” Lindsay said of the interior play. “They got a lot of loose balls that were bouncing around … a lot of tip-backs on the offensive end. I just think we got to the loose balls and that kind of propelled us to win the game.”
Through two games, this Richmond team has done the little things to win: rebounding, defense and clutch free throws. The ability to win the close games — Spiders defeated Delaware 71-69 Friday — is normally the trademark of a good team. Yet, in both game’s this season, Richmond has also seen double-digit leads evaporate over the final minutes of a game, forcing them to come up with the key play.
“Both games we had a double-digit lead that got to the final minutes, so I wish we handled that a little better,” Mooney said of his team. “There’s always a tendency of the team ahead to be a little more cautious … I think we can address that.”
For this game, at least, Terry Allen helped alleviate some of the stresses with his 6-for-10 shooting night for 16 points and seven rebounds, showing the potential he has in his ability to score in various ways.
But perhaps the aspect which needs to be addressed is the horrid 3-point shooting through two games of the season. Richmond has shot just 6-of-40 from 3-point range, for a 15 percent clip, far beyond what their 38 percent clip from just last season.
“We’ve always been a pretty good 3-point shooting team,” Mooney said. “I’m as surprised as anybody that we haven’t shot the ball better. Confident that we will and sometimes it happens whether it’s because it’s the beginning of the year or we haven’t gotten good looks.”
The looks won’t always be there, but if the nylon doesn’t softly have the orange circular ball flow through it, the Spiders daunting schedule of facing the likes of Minnesota, North Carolina, Florida and possibly Louisville look all the more intimidating, setting up a crucial crossroads for a talented team.