ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior forced Flora Macdonald’s Rickie Lewis into taking the shot it wanted him to fire up.
The only problem, Lewis was up to the task.
Lewis drained a 3-point field goal from the right corner with 1:50 remaining in the game to help the Cougars pull away from the Raiders for a 60-46 nonconference victory Wednesday night.
Lewis’ basket extended Flora Macdonald’s lead to 49-44 and sparked a 14-2 run to close out the contest.
“It was a big 3-pointer,” Richmond coach David Laton said. “I have to give him (Lewis) credit because he made it. That was the shot we wanted to give up in our 90-50 (1-3-1 zone trap).”
Until the final 1:50 of the game, Flora Macdonald and Richmond were locked up in tight contest with eight lead changes — six in the second half. The Raiders built an 8-point lead in the opening 16 minutes, while the Cougars’ largest advantage until the fourth quarter was two points.
“I thought it was a hard-played, clean basketball game,” Laton said. “I thought it was good experience for us to help get us ready for the tournament.”
Two seniors scored in double figures in their final regular season game at Raider Gymnasium — Jordan Richardson and Shydamion Ellerbe. Richardson netted a team-leading 15 points, while Ellerbe added 13.
“Our guards have to start stepping up,” Laton said. “We have to hit some shots. They are open…we just have to hit them.”
Flora Macdonald, which featured a frontline of four players taller than 6 feet 4 inches, was led by former Lumberton player Jared Scott’s 16 points.
“It stopped us from taking it all the way to the basket,” Richmond guard Josh Calhoun said about Flora Macdonald’s height advantage. “We had to pull up and take a jump shot. This was a great game and a test for us to see where we are as a team.”
Richmond (17-6) will close out its regular season 7:30 p.m. Friday when it visits Southeastern Conference rival Scotland. The Raiders have clinched the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament, while the Fighting Scots (2-17) will be the fifth seed.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.