Nashville, TN — Blake Francis scored 21 points and Grant Golden flirted with a double-double as Richmond used a big first half to bounce back with a 78-67 victory over Vanderbilt in a college basketball game at Francis Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday.
Richmond was bouncing back from the 87-71 loss to No. 11 West Virginia, which resulted in them falling out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll recently.
Francis Extends His Richmond Scoring Streak
On his way to scoring 20-plus points for the 20th time in his college career, Francis shot 7-of-12 from the field and connected on three 3-pointers, while dishing out four assists in 37 minutes. He scored 14 of his total points in a dominant first-half display from the visitors.
“We came out playing with high intensity,” said Francis. “We knew we had to come strong and fast to start the game off and come out with high energy on both ends of the floor and that’s what we did.”
Golden added 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor to go with his eight rebounds and three blocks, while Tyler Burton and Nathan Cayo scored 13 points for the Spiders (5-1).
Senior guard Jacob Gilyard ended with eight points with five assists and six steals in the win for Richmond.
Scotty Pippen Jr. paced Vanderbilt with 25 points in 34 minutes on the court, with Jordan Wright adding 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting to go with his seven rebounds.
Thomas added 15 points and five boards and Dylan Disu finished with 10 points and six rebounds for the Commodores (2-1) who won two straight entering this game.
Impressive First half Shooting By The Spiders
Richmond started quickly and rushed into a double-digit lead with 14:29 left in the first half. The Spiders went on to build their lead to 24 points as they head into the halftime break with a 45-21 advantage and shooting 18-of-25 from the field for 72.0%.
Vanderbilt made just 6-of-23 shots for 26.1% in the first half but chopped the deficit to single digits at 63-54 when Thomas made a 3-pointer with 10:06 left in the second half.
However, Richmond, which shot 59.0% (30-51) for the entire game, quickly build back its double-digit lead to as many as 14 points afterward, and the Spiders were never challenged thereafter.
According to the stats gurus, Richmond’s record of 5-1 this season matches the program’s best six-game start under head coach Chris Mooney.
“I was pleased with everything,” Mooney said when asked about the first half display.
“We moved the ball really well … and defensively in the first half I thought we were terrific – close to their shooters, really alert to the scouting report, great ball-screen defense. All around I thought in the first half we were great.”
The Spiders were ranked 19th last week in the AP poll before falling out of the top 25.