Richmond Spiders' Blake Francis will miss four to six weeks after fracturing his sternum, the team announced on Thursday.
The injury occurred at the end of the Spiders' contest against Saint Louis on Jan. 11. Francis fell to the floor to save a loose ball when opposing Bilikins dove onto a dogpile to recover the possession themselves.
If Francis is out for the full six weeks, he would return during the final week of the regular season. It would give the guard a tuneup game before they play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
The loss of Francis for the majority of the Atlantic 10 conference season cannot be overstated. A transfer from Wagner, Francis is the No. 2 guard in the Spiders lineup and putting out 17 points a game. Immediately he had an impact for the Spiders and was named a starter for his first game in Richmond.
His scoring threat has allowed other stars Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden to flourish. An aspect of the offense that was missing last year.
At 13-4, the Spiders were still in NCAA Tournament consideration before the injury. They have one of the better records in the league and tough road victories at Rhode Island and Davidson to their credit. However, there is no wiggle room for the Spiders and they probably cannot afford another loss to anyone not named Dayton or VCU.
Without Francis, they'll have to supplement the offense elsewhere if they want any chance to return to the big dance in March.
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