George Washington-Richmond Preview

Richmond enjoyed the outcome of its first game as a ranked team

in 24 years, but knows games will only get tougher as it tries to

protect its lead atop the Atlantic 10.

With a showdown against another conference champion contender

looming, the No. 25 Spiders try to avoid a fourth consecutive home

loss to George Washington on Saturday.

After moving into the AP poll for the first time since January

1986, Richmond (21-6, 10-2) had no problem avoiding a letdown with

an 84-56 win over Fordham on Wednesday. Facing a team that is

winless in Atlantic 10 play, the Spiders shot 52.6 percent and

forced 19 turnovers.

With a seven-game winning streak, which includes three home

victories by a combined 71 points, Richmond is a half-game ahead of

No. 21 Temple and Xavier for the conference lead. Both of those

teams are playing on the road Saturday, and the Spiders will visit

Xavier in their next game Feb. 28.

“With each game that we play as we’re in first place … we

become the team with the target on its back,” coach Chris Mooney

said. “We’re embracing first place and the ranking. We just want to

make sure we play as well as we can.”

Mooney’s team played very well in its first game back in the

rankings Wednesday. The Spiders took a 22-point lead into halftime

and were able to use every player on their bench. No one was on the

court for more than 24 minutes.

“It felt really good for me,” leading scorer Kevin Anderson, who

finished with 19 points, said of the extended rest. “My knee’s been

bothering me a little bit – just wear and tear of the season.”

Richmond began its winning streak with a 62-57 come-from-behind

victory at George Washington on Jan. 23. Mooney would certainly

like a much better offensive game from his team in the rematch,

considering the Spiders shot 38.3 percent in the victory. Anderson

led all scorers with 21 points, hitting two critical free throws in

the final seconds.

“It was a really tough and hard fought game against GW the first

time and I expect the same thing on Saturday,” Mooney said.

The Spiders have lost three straight home games against George

Washington (14-10, 4-7), failing to reach 60 points in any of

them.

The Colonials have struggled in conference play but have won

their last two games.

Following a 78-53 victory at Fordham last Saturday, George

Washington defeated Massachusetts 66-60 on Wednesday. Lasan Kromah

scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half and the Colonials

overcame shooting a season-low 33.9 percent.

“Both teams knew we were in a desperate situation,” forward

Damian Hollis said. “We both came out aggressive.”

Hollis was held to nine points in the win, but he leads George

Washington with 14.1 per game. He’s failed to score in double

figures in six of his last eight games, including nine points last

month at Richmond as he went 1 of 7 from the floor and was limited

to 17 minutes because of a bruised rib.

The Colonials haven’t faced a ranked team this season. They’ve

lost seven straight against Top 25 foes since a 78-70 win over

Maryland in 2005.