Spiders escape Colonials in crunch time

With both teams fighting for national recognition and a possible NCAA at-large bid in March, the visiting Richmond Spiders defeated GW in overtime 84-80, handing the Colonials their first home loss of the season before 3,415 Saturday night at the Smith Center. The heartbreaking defeat came after the Colonials (5-3) took their first lead of the second half at 64-62 on a SirValiant Brown three-pointer with less than two minutes remaining.

Any time you lose a close game and make a big comeback and you lose its tough, GW head coach Tom Penders said.

Brown scored 26 of his 28 points (8-of-22) in a strong second half for the demoralized Colonials. But he failed to score on two overtime shot attempts and his perimeter shot failed him in a 1-of-7 first-half shooting performance.

The first half I just couldn’t hit anything until the second half when I started picking it up, Brown said.

GW’s lackluster opening 20 minutes saw the Colonials trail 35-24 at half after shooting 1-of-15 from behind the arc.

Val and others couldn’t throw into the ocean in the first half, Penders said.

Richmond (5-1) was led by sophomore guard Reggie Brown (7-of-13), who scored 28 points including nine in the extra session. The Spiders improved their overall record to 5-1, its best since the 1990-91 season when a No.15-seeded Richmond team upset a heavily favored Syracuse University team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The poised and talented Spiders team also proved that no Atlantic 10 team is going to step on them when they join the conference next season.

I think after this, people will think, `hey, they’re a good addition to this league,’Richmond head coach Jim Beilein said.

Reggie Brown’s nine points all came with less than two minutes to play in overtime, including six free throws in the final 18 seconds. The Colonials played most of overtime without Chris Monroe, who fouled out just over a minute into the session.

After Mike King hit one of his two three-pointers giving GW a 75-73 lead with 2:20 remaining, Reggie Brown nailed a trey with 1:51 left to give the Spiders a 76-75 lead they would not give up again. After a Bernard Barrow turnover and a free throw by Richmond’s Tim Faulconer – who had eight points, seven blocks and 10 rebounds in the game – GW’s Val Brown missed the first of two overtime three-point attempts with 35 seconds left.

A few possessions later, Reggie Brown hit two free throws with 18 seconds left to extend the Richmond lead to 80-77. That’s when GW came down court and put the ball into Val Brown’s hands. With just under 10 seconds left, Brown took a leaning three-pointer in front of the GW bench that fell short. Both Brown and GW coach Tom Penders argued for a foul, but none was called.

There was body contact. It was obvious, Brown said. If you get the person off their feet, they should call the foul regardless.

He faked a guy off his feet and the guy clobbered him, Penders said. It was an obvious situation.

Reggie Brown was fouled on the ensuing play and made both attempts, putting the Colonials in a 82-77 hole with five seconds left. Brown was given two more attempts with less than a second remaining after GW’s Greg Collucci hit a three-pointer.

It was heartbreaking, Brown said. We didn’t think Richmond was as good.

The final fast-paced minutes of regulation also had their share of thrills. GW’s Chris Monroe felt the three-point touch and (20 points, 7-of-12) hit the first of his two treys (2-of-5) with under six minutes left to cut the Spiders lead to 59-53. Monroe hit his second three-pointer with three and a half minutes left, cutting the deficit to 62-58. After free throws by Patrick Ngongba (five points) and a Greg Stevenson basket (17 points), the final two minutes was all Brown – both of them.

Val Brown scored GW’s final 10 points of the game, and his falling three with 1:51 left gave GW a 64-62 lead. But, on the ensuing possession Reggie Brown drove the lane, scored a lay-up and drew a blocking foul on Ngongba, his fifth personal. Brown would miss the free-throw attempt.

Tied 66-66, a forced pass by Mike King was intercepted by Richmond and the Spiders brought it down and gave it to Reggie Brown. Brown knocked down a three-pointer with 39 seconds left, drawing loud applause from the Richmond cheering section. But, Val Brown didn’t think twice after the Richmond basket, nailing a game-tying three-pointer just five seconds later.

Richmond had possession with the shot clock turned off, but Barrow stole the ball from Kinte Smith with three seconds and dribbled down court as time ran out. When Barrow stole the ball, Val Brown appeared to call for a time out in front of the official but no timeout was granted.

GW held a 12-10 lead after a Mike King (11 points) basket and foul, but that was the only advantage the Colonials had in the first half. Greg Stevenson had nine points in the half, including two early dunks. Monroe had 10 first-half points keeping GW close. The Colonials led 24-20 with three minutes to play, but Richmond went on an 11-4 run to finish the half.

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