p. RICHMOND, Va. — For the second year in a row, the Tribe’s opening round game of the CAA tournament against Georgia State University came down to a last-second shot. This time, the College was on the right end of it.
Sophomore guard David Schneider raced the length of the court with 7.9 seconds remaining, utilized a screen set by junior center Peter Stein, and rattled home a three-pointer with 1.3 seconds left on the clock to give the Tribe its fourth-ever CAA tournament game victory, winning by a score of 58-57.
“The basketball gods smiled back at us today,” Head Coach Tony Shaver said, referencing last year’s tournament game between the two teams when Panthers guard Leonard Mendez hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the contest.
Schneider put the team on his back in the final moments, hitting a trey to cut the Panthers’ lead to one at 54-53. After two made free throws by Panthers guard Trae Goldston, Schneider again cut it to one with a tough runner to make it 56-55 with 14.9 seconds remaining.
The Tribe put Mendez on the line with 7.9 seconds left for two shots, and the junior missed the front end before hitting the second, giving GSU a thin 57-55 lead and setting the stage for Schneider’s final heroics. The final margin of 58-57 was the Tribe’s first lead since the score was 6-4 in the game’s opening minutes.
Schneider finished the game with 20 points, three assists, two rebounds, two steals and no turnovers. He also played 38 of the game’s 40 minutes, and knocked down all six of the team’s three-point baskets, the last of which propelled the Tribe into the next round.
“Coach said, ‘Try and take it to the rim, if you can,’ but I just felt like the [three-pointer] was going to be there, and if it was going to be there that I was going to take it,” Schneider said.
The Panthers went on a 19-6 run in the first half to give them an early lead, a lead they would keep throughout the first half and most of the second. They scored both on the inside and the outside, as Mendez knocked down a trio of treys on his way to 11 first half points. The Tribe, in contrast, was ice cold in the first half, shooting 32 percent from the field, 17 percent from three-point range and an abysmal 47 percent from the free throw line.
The College scrapped back in the second half, coming within two points of GSU early in the second at 33-31 after freshman forward Marcus Kitts’ three-point play. The Panthers were resilient, however, seeming to have an answer for every Tribe run, and the College was unable to regain the lead until the game’s final play.
“The one thing we did really well today was continue to battle,” Shaver said.
Sophomore forward Danny Sumner was pivotal in the Tribe’s comeback, contributing a series of big plays including a steal and fast break dunk that electrified the Tribe faithful in attendance. Sumner finished with 17 points and five rebounds to go along with two steals.
Senior forward Laimis Kisielius and senior guard Nathan Mann struggled throughout the game, combining to shoot 3 of 17 from the field and score 11 points.
“I really wish that Laimis and Nathan, that they could just relax and play,” Shaver said. “Their will to win is so strong right now, and I think they feel like they need to carry our ball club too much right now and I think they’re pressing a little bit. Somehow, someway, between now and tomorrow we need to get them to just relax a little and play the game.”
The Tribe will take on fourth-seeded Old Dominion University tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. at the Richmond Coliseum.
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