GAME NOTES: The Richmond Spiders and the Bryant Bulldogs square off in the first round of the 2013 College Basketball Invitational on Wednesday night at the Chace Athletic Center in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
Bryant is hosting this matchup due to renovations at Richmond's Robins Center. The winner will advance to the quarterfinal round on March 25 to play either Wright State or Tulsa.
Richmond (18-14) experienced a solid season in an Atlantic 10 Conference that sent five teams to the NCAA Tournament, going 8-8 with the season highlight coming in a Jan. 24 win over nationally-ranked VCU, 86-74, in overtime. The Spiders are making their third appearance in the CBI, having advanced to the semifinals in 2009.
Bryant endured one of the greatest turnarounds in NCAA history this season. After going a woeful 2-28 during the 2011-12 campaign, it went 19-11 overall and 12-6 in the Northeast Conference in its first year with full Division I eligibility. The Bulldogs were ousted in the quarterfinals of the NEC Tournament by Mount St. Mary's, 75-69.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs on the hardwood.
The Spiders' A-10 Tournament experience was short-lived, as they were saddled with a 68-63 loss at the hands of Charlotte in the first round, coughing up a 10-point second-half lead in the process. Cedrick Lindsay paced the losing effort with 19 points, making all seven of his free-throw attempts. Terry Allen came off the bench to tally 14 points and nine rebounds, while Derrick Williams and Darien Brothers added 13 and 10 points, respectively. Richmond was able to hold its own in a high-scoring A-10 with 70.4 ppg on 44.3 percent shooting (including 38 percent from 3-point range). Brothers was named Third Team All-Conference by netting 14.5 ppg with 81 3-pointers. Williams scores 12.0 ppg on greater than 55 percent from the field while also hauling in a team-best 5.4 rpg. Cedrick Lindsay (11.8 ppg) and Kendall Another (11.7 ppg) round out the balanced attack.
Bryant also coughed up a second-half lead in its latest game, as it committed nine turnovers after halftime and found itself in foul trouble, with Mount St. Mary's taking advantage by shooting 26-of-27 from the foul line for the game. Alex Francis was outstanding in defeat, shooting 8-of-18 from the field and 9- of-12 from the free-throw stripe for 25 points to pair with eight rebounds. Dyami Starks (19 points), Vlad Kondratyev (12 points) and Corey Maynard were also strong on the glass with eight boards apiece. The Bulldogs were fortunate enough to have one of the best scoring offenses in the NEC with 74.1 ppg on 48 percent shooting, but their high-flying ways have also made them vulnerable on the defensive end of the court (71.2 ppg). Starks (17.7 ppg) and Francis (17.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg) are a dynamic scoring duo, Frankie Dobbs chips in 13.5 ppg and 5.1 apg, and Maynard stuffs the stat sheet with 9.3 rpg, 5.2 rpg, 3.5 apg and 1.1 spg.
Richmond received an unfortunate blow being unable to host this game, and in a contest with explosive playmakers at both ends of the floor, the home court advantage for Bryant will be enough to see the Bulldogs' outstanding season continue.