SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -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.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved