Richmond (6-8, 1-4) will try to knock off the undefeated and first-place Seventy-First Falcons (14-0, 5-0) when the two conference foils tip-off at 7:30 p.m.
The Raiders come into the contest with some confidence after prevailing 53-52 on Lovell Joy’s game-winning layup with six seconds to play. Despite getting a much-needed league win, coach David May knows his team must raise their game to have a chance against the best team in the MSEC.
“After watching the tape, we didn’t do a whole lot very well,” May said. “I thought our defense was very poor and we got to be more tough. We allowed to many easy shots to Scotland. If we do that against Seventy-First, we’re going to get embarrassed.”
According to May, Richmond struggled with rebounds against the Scots and Seventy-First will have a height advantage with it’s starting front court being at least 6-foot-4.
May feels the Raiders must crash rebound well, especially on the defensive end and get out on the break.
“We’ve got to limit their second-chance opportunities,” May said. “We can’t play a half-court game against them. We’re going try to push the ball, try to wear those guys down and see if we can get them in foul trouble.”
Seventy-First maintained its perfect season by squeaking out a 70-69 victory over Westover (2-12, 1-4) on Steve Johnson’s putback at the buzzer. Johnson scored 15 points and was one of four players to score in double figures. Charles Benjamin had a game-high 21 points, Kevin Powell scored 17 points and Preston Ross added 11 points.
Last year, the Raiders won both meetings in the regular season before losing in the second round of the conference tournament.
“When we had success against them, we mixed up our defense with some zone and man press,” May said. “When we were able to change the pace of the game, they never could get into the flow of their stuff and we got to keep them off-balance. We got to force them to shoot a lot of outside shots. If they pound us inside, we’re in trouble.”
The Falcons are the first of three straight road games with Hoke on Friday and Jack Britt on Jan. 23.
“We call this murderous row,” May said. “They’re all big, but these are some huge games coming up. “We need to win at least two and hopefully all three.”
Lady Raiders hope to rebound
The Richmond women basketball team have some things in common against today’s opponent Seventy-First when the two MSEC teams step on the hardwood at 6 p.m.
Both teams are coming off conference losses where each had one bad quarter in their games, too many turnovers and misfired at the free-throw line.
Richmond (7-3, 3-2) trailed Scotland 15-13 after the first quarter, but broke down offensively in the second. The Lady Raiders committed 10 of their 25 turnovers in the period and were outscored 21-9. Richmond ended up missing 14 free-throws and lost 59-55 to the Lady Scots.
“Their were some things such as foul shooting and making better decision with the ball that we’ve got to do a better job at,” Laton said. “But I don’t like to talk about the last game and you can’t stay in the past.”
The Lady Falcons are looking to move on after blowing a chance to move into first place in the conference. The team squandered a 12-point halftime lead and lost 71-62 to reigning 4-AA champ Westover.
Like Richmond, the Lady Falcons suffered through a offensive slump in one quarter. But theirs was in the final period.
The Lady Falcons led 49-43 going into the fourth, but was outscored 28-13. In the game, the Lady Falcons missed 20 foul shots and was plagued by 42 turnovers.
“They’re coming off a tough loss like we are, and I expect them to be fired up and ready to play,” Laton said. “We’re playing against one of the top two teams in the conference.”
Laton said Shaniqua Flowers should be close to 100 percent after being under the weather against Scotland. Richmond will need to be at full strength against a Lady Falcon squad, which features a balanced scoring attack.
“To give ourselves a chance to win, we must rebound the ball,” Laton said. “They’re the best rebounding team in the conference, and they’re a big team. Our big people have to come up huge.”
Contact sports reporter Corey Davis at 997-3111, ext. 44; e-mail email@example.com