This is how big guys beat little guys: depth.
Ten minutes into the second half of Wednesday night's game, Richmond was giving NC State all they could handle. There had been something like 23 lead changes during the game. But 10 minutes into the second half, Richmond got a little tired. Down a member of their rotation, they started to run out of gas. It took a half-second longer to fight through picks on the defensive end. They were a half-step slower driving into the lane. Trevor Lacey's berserk cross-court drives got guarded a little less closely. And the threes they'd been draining effortlessly in the first half were a half-inch off, and started clanking off the rim. Slowly, relentlessly, State got a point ahead. And then two. And then three, and then six.
Which led Richmond to start jacking up threes and rushing plays and making turnovers, which led to easy baskets for NC State, and in the last five minutes the game slipped out of reach.
The final margin of victory was 12, 84-72. It was closer than that, much closer, until it suddenly wasn't.
[Big thanks to the Holt Brothers Foundation for generously providing the tickets for the evening; it was a pleasure to be able to take my nephew to the game.]