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Friday, November 09, 2007

Richmond Times-Dispatch - UR Upset bid falls short

UR Upset bid falls short
No. 3 Tigers need second-half rally to escape Spiders
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Wednesday, Nov 07, 2007 - 12:05 AM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Before the University of Richmond challenged third-ranked Memphis last night, Spiders forward Oumar Sylla compared the contest to David vs. Goliath.

Goliath perspired profusely, but prevailed 80-63 despite a career-high 25 points from a David, UR sophomore guard David Gonzalvez.

Memphis (2-0), in winning for the 34th consecutive time on its home court (the FedEx Forum), outclassed the Spiders (1-1) late in the second half of the second round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic before 16,771. UR trailed 40-39 at the break. It was tied at 48 with 11:28 left. By then, Gonzalvez had scored 22.

Memphis, which used constant full-court pressure accented by double teams, forged ahead by 8. Richmond cut it to 62-59 on a Gonzalvez 3-pointer with 6:25 left. UR continued to frustrate the Tigers, who infrequently scored inside, with a 1-3-1 zone. But fatigue seemed to catch UR, which lost starters Dan Geriot and Ryan Butler to fouls.

Memphis went to the free throw line eight times (six made) during a two-minute stretch and extended its lead to 70-59 with 4:27 remaining. UR was stuck on 59 for about three minutes, a decisive drought in the unsuccessful upset bid.

Memphis, which trounced Tennessee-Martin 102-71 Monday, earned a trip to New York City and Madison Square Garden for next Thursday's tournament semifinals against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. The Spiders open their home schedule vs. Norfolk State on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Richmond hadn't faced a higher-ranked opponent since losing 90-73 to No. 1 Wake Forest in 2004-05. On five occasions in UR hoops history, the Spiders upended top-10 teams. For 34 minutes, this one looked as if it could be the sixth time. UR experienced early-game turnover troubles as Memphis went up 15-5. But as the Spiders began taking better care of the ball and setting a more moderate tempo that made Memphis uncomfortable, they rallied behind Gonzalvez.

Gonzalvez scored seven straight and freshman guard Kevin Anderson provided a calming influence off the bench as Richmond led 29-22 with six minutes left in the first half. UR had difficulty slowing down the Memphis offense, but the Spiders kept the scoring pace, a surprising development given the form of Richmond's first-round victory over Maine here Monday. UR shot 33 percent and won 44-42, needing two Gonzalvez free throws in the final few seconds to get its crack at Memphis.

But UR shot 47 percent in the first half vs. Memphis and stayed with Tigers on the glass (17-14 Memphis advantage).

The Tigers return all five starters from last season's team, which went 33-4 and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. To that mix, Memphis added 6-3 Derrick Rose, one of the nation's top freshmen. Justifiably, the defending Conference USA champions are thinking national championship, especially when 6-9 senior Joey Dorsey returns to action. The defensive stopper missed last night's game with a shoulder sprain.

Richmond continues to play without 6-7 defensive-minded Gaston Moliva (stress fractures, right foot).

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