RICHMOND, Va. — David Gonzalvez let out a big sigh and flashed a huge grin.
“Awesome day,” the Richmond guard said, settling into a seat. “Awesome game.”
Kevin Anderson scored 29 points, Richmond shot 77 percent in the first half against one of the nation’s top defensive teams and the Spiders beat No. 19 Temple 71-54 on Saturday.
“Some nights you just shoot really well and some nights you shoot really poorly,” Gonzalvez said, trying to offer an explanation. “We just came out on fire tonight.”
The Spiders (18-6, 7-2 Atlantic 10) finished at 58 percent for the game and won their fourth straight, and their third in a row against a ranked opponent dating to last season. They also became the first team this season to surpass their scoring average against the Owls (19-5, 7-2).
“We definitely didn’t defend very well,” Owls coach Fran Dunphy said, adding: “I think it’s a combination. We gave them some open looks and they buried every one of them.”
Gonzalvez, who scored an opponent-record 36 points last season in a loss at Temple, added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Ryan Butler had 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting.
The game came on the second straight Saturday featuring a snowstorm in Richmond — the Spiders hammered Saint Louis 62-36 a week ago — and was another step forward, Gonzalvez said.
“I think it was great that they were ranked,” the senior said. “That definitely helped us out, but in the grand scheme of things, we’re trying to get to the (NCAA) tournament.”
With Anderson leading the way, that determination showed. Anderson scored 16 points in the first half, when Richmond led by as many as 21, and had steadying points — a basket and two free throws — after Temple used a 19-4 run to pull within 57-49 with under 6 minutes to play.
“He’s really good,” Dunphy said of Anderson, who came within two of his career high. “We had some details that we fell down on defensively and when you do that, he makes you pay.”
Anderson finished 11-of-17 from the field with three assists and five rebounds.
Temple lost for just the second time in 10 games and fell into a tie with the Spiders near the top of the conference standings. Xavier started the day in front, but fell to 8-2 with a loss to Dayton, and Charlotte moved to the top at 8-1 with a comeback win at Fordham.
The Spiders play at Rhode Island, also 7-2 in the conference, Wednesday night.
Lavoy Allen led Temple with 17 points and a career-high 19 rebounds and Ramone Moore added 17 points, but only two other Owls managed as many as five. Temple also lost despite a 16-2 edge in offensive rebounds, converting them into nine second-chance points.
The Owls shot 32 percent overall.
Richmond led 44-26 at halftime and 53-30 with 14:58 to play, but Temple scored the next 12 points — nine by Allen — at the start of the run that made it 57-49, getting the Owls within single digits of the lead for the first time since midway through the first half.
Anderson broke the drought with a driving basket for Richmond, and after Moore scored on a layup off a steal and hit two free throws, Anderson made two for the Spiders, again settling things down, and the Owls were unable to do any more trimming of the deficit.
The game featured two of the stingiest defensive teams in the country with the Owls holding opponents to 57 points per game and 27.4 percent 3-point shooting, both fifth-best nationally, and 38 percent shooting overall, and the Spiders shot holes in it quickly.
Already leading 20-13, they put together an 18-4 run to build a 38-17 lead 1:49 before halftime, shooting 77 percent overall and 73 percent from 3-point range, making 8 of 11.
Richmond, averaging 65.8 points, finished 9 of 16 behind the arc, 56 percent.