CANCUN, Mexico-- The Spiders overcame a halftime deficit and hung on late to beat Wichita State, 49-46, Friday at the Cancun Challenge.
The Spiders improved to 3-3, while Wichita State fell to 2-3.
"I was very pleased with our ability to dig deep and find a way," said head coach Michael Shafer. "We only took 36 shots for the game and the way it was being played, it was going to come down to possessions. When it mattered most, we responded. I felt the first half we were still enjoying the Minnesota win and Wichita State made us pay. Rachael really had a big second half and did a good job of limiting their best player's touches. We have to recover quickly because we go again tomorrow against an excellent Green Bay team."
Wichita State closed the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 25-18 advantage into the break. The Shockers shot 9-of-17 from the field (52%), while Richmond shot 7-for-21 (33%). Wichita State held Richmond to its lowest first-half point total (18) of the season.
Senior Rachael Bilney willed her team back into the ballgame with two timely long-range bombs to get Richmond to 36-34 early into the last frame. During that stretch, Bilney accounted for 10 of the Spiders' 14 points.
Much like yesterday, it was Okoro that sparked the Richmond comeback. Okoro beat her defender for the bucket and hit the free-throw to swing momentum Richmond's way at 39-38 with 11:04 remaining. The Spiders continued to score, going on a 9-0 run to take a 43-38 lead.
Richmond held Wichita State without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes, but the Shockers hung around with free-throws.
The Shockers made it interesting down the stretch scoring three consecutive times to knot the game at 44-all with a minute to play. Richmond dug in and grabbed crucial rebounds and connected on free-throws to seal the win.
Bilney ended the game with a season-high 20 points off 5-of-10 shooting from the field, including 4-of-7 from long range. Bilney's heady leadership in the closing minutes, including a key rebound with 18 seconds left, proved to be the difference.
Okoro followed Bilney with nine points and seven rebounds. Richmond outrebounded the Shockers, 26-22 and outscored Wichita State 31-21 in the second frame. The game saw five ties and 10 lead changes.
The Spiders conclude the Cancun Challenge with Wisconsin-Green Bay tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. ET.
NOTES: Richmond won back-to-back games for the first time this season and the first time since beating Fordham and Duquesne last February...The Spiders improved to 2-0 versus first-time opponents this season (Defeated other first-time foe, Minnesota 58-46 Nov. 22)...Richmond won two neutral site games for the first time since the Lehigh Christmas Classic last December...Rachael Bilney connected on a season-high four threes and leads Richmond with 15 long-range shots this season...Bilney scored 20 points for the second time in her career.