Richmond’s second-half rally stuns No. 13 Florida

With his Florida Gators leading by eight points at halftime, coach

Billy Donovan sensed trouble.

He was right. No. 13 Florida stumbled through the second half

and lost to Richmond 56-53 Saturday night in the Orange Bowl

Basketball Classic.

“I saw it coming,” Donovan said.

The game began to turn in the final minute of the first half

after Florida took a 32-19 lead. Richmond scored five quick points

before halftime, and Donovan could tell his Gators were going flat.

“You see the energy, the passion, the enthusiasm kind of

coming out of them,” he said. “I can get them physically ready to

play, but they’ve got to understand every game is 40 minutes.”

The Gators (8-2), beaten by No. 5 Syracuse last week, have

lost two in a row.

Kevin Anderson made four free throws in the final 5.4 seconds

for Richmond (8-3), which beat a Southeastern Conference team for

the second time this season. The Spiders defeated Mississippi State

on Nov. 27.

They beat a ranked opponent for the third season in a row,

but coach Chris Mooney said the latest upset was special.

“It’s a very big win for our team,” Mooney said. “Florida is

going to end up being a top 10 or top 15 team, and when you beat

them, that just says how good you are.”

Richmond’s David Gonzalvez made four 3-pointers, scored 16

points and was voted the game’s most valuable player. Anderson

added 14 points.

After Donovan urged his team at halftime to pick up the

energy level, the Gators were outscored 20-5 to start the second

half. As their lead vanished, the coach resisted any temptation to

call a timeout.

“I wasn’t going to bail them out,” Donovan said. “I almost

wanted them to stop the bleeding themselves. They needed to play

through that.

“I take responsibility from the standpoint that obviously

what I’m saying to them is not getting through.”

The Gators totaled only 21 points in the second half, when

they shot 7 for 27 (26 percent), including 1 for 9 from 3-point

range. They led for the last time at 49-48.

“We didn’t shoot well,” said Alex Tyus, who led Florida with

15 points. “We need to learn how to be a team that when we don’t

shoot well from the field, we can do other things to overcome that

and still win games.”

Starting guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton shot a

combined 5 for 23, including 2 for 11 from 3-point range.

“We came out flat in the second half,” forward Chandler

Parsons said. “We’ve got to fight through that. When teams make

runs, we have to keep battling.”

Richmond sputtered offensively in the second half, too,

missing 12 consecutive shots over a 9-minute span before

Gonzalvez’s 23-footer with 1:33 left put them ahead 52-49.

“The farther out he is, the better his percentage is,” Mooney

said. “I don’t think there was anybody on our team surprised he

made the shot.”

An earlier 3-pointer by Gonzalvez helped Richmond build its

biggest lead at 46-37. The Gators came into the game leading the

nation in 3-point defense, but they allowed the Spiders to shoot 5

for 12 from behind the line in the second half.

“It’s a lack of awareness,” Donovan said, “and almost a lack

of respect for the scouting report and understanding what we’ve got

to do to take away what they do well.”

Still, the Gators nearly pulled the game out. Trailing 52-50

with less than 15 seconds left, they tried two shots with a chance

to erase the deficit. Walker missed a 3-pointer, and Vernon Macklin

grabbed the rebound but missed the follow.

When Florida’s Dan Werner snatched the rebound he was

stripped, and Anderson drew a foul. Anderson sank both ends of a

one-and-one with 5.4 seconds to go for a 54-53 lead, and after

Walker made a 3-pointer, Anderson hit two more free throws with 0.9

seconds remaining.

Miami beat Florida Atlantic 87-69 in the first game of the

doubleheader at the NHL Florida Panthers’ arena.