Davis comes up clutch again

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By Kevin Howard

khoward5@radford.edu

This past week our Radford Highlanders had two games, one on the road against UNC Asheville (Feb. 11) and one at home against Winthrop. Radford looked to bounce back from a loss against Coastal the weekend before. The first game was at Asheville and was a nationally televised game on ESPN U. Playing in prime time for our school is amazing because it allows people who do not know about Radford to see us perform at the Division 1 level.

Radford ended up winning the nail biter 60-59 with Cameron Jones racking up 21 points and Ed Polite Jr. crashing the boards and getting 11 rebounds. But the big story was Rashun Davis coming up clutch for the third time this season. The senior guard got the game-winning layup with 15 seconds left. Radford also came up big on defense, holding the UNC Asheville Bulldogs scoreless over the final 3:18.

The bucket by Davis capped off a 6-0 scoring run to close out the game. Trailing 59-54, YaYa Anderson a big three-pointer, his second of the contest, with 2:44 remaining; both teams then turned the ball over several times over the next two minutes. Davis got a huge steal and hit one of two free throws to make it a one-point game, 59-58 with 36 seconds left. The Highlanders used a full-court pressure to force another Bulldog turnover. Davis took advantage and drove down the left side of the lane for the game-winner.

Davis then pressured UNC Asheville guard Dylan Smith and Anderson stole the ball. Anderson then got fouled with two seconds left. After missing the one-and-one free throw, Smith’s desperation three at the buzzer fell short.

The game started out with big men Polite Jr. and Kion Brown scoring four points for an 11-6 lead. After that, Radford struggled by not making a field goal for the next seven minutes and UNC Asheville took advantage with a 15-3 run to go up 21-14. Trailing 28-20, Jones scored eight consecutive points with two three-pointers and an alley-oop dunk fed by Davis, which helped trim the deficit to four at the half, 32-28.

After tying the contest three times, Asheville moved ahead 46-40. Radford would respond with a 10-3 run that included another Jones three that made it 50-49 with 7:52 left. From that point forward, the game went down to the wire and ended with the game-winning layup by Davis.

The win gave Radford a sweep over UNC Asheville for the first time since the 2008-09 season, the last time Radford made the NCAA Tournament. Anderson scored all eight of his points in the second half and his two treys gave him 220 in his career. It moved him into a tie for fifth most three-pointers in school history. Brown finished with seven points and six rebounds in 25 minutes of action.

“Like any college basketball game, there were ups and downs, and it’s just a matter of how you handle those things. As long as the clock is ticking, you have a chance in games like that,” said head coach Mike Jones. “We’ve been in that situation before. We had some turnovers down the stretch, but we came back and forced them to turn it over, so we kept giving ourselves chances because we didn’t cave into the negative. We had great resolve and it paid off for us. Rashun’s delivered for us. He has the heart to do it, and he’s not afraid to fail because of the type of competitor he is. We don’t stay in the game tonight if we’re not mentally tough. They’re on their homecourt in front of a TV audience and in first place, so they had a lot of confidence. But when the ball goes up, it’s who’s the better and tougher team that night and tonight we were.”

Next up on the matchup list for our Highlanders was a great high scoring matchup here at home versus Winthrop on Saturday. Radford led Winthrop going into halftime 46-41 and maintained their stamina in the second half to only lose by a step back buzzer beater made by Keon Johnson. The final was 86-84. Some notable statistics from the game were with our very own Jones scoring 21 points and Davis getting nine assists. With this loss, Radford’s record is 14-12 and they look to get another win under their belt against Liberty University on Thursday night this week (Feb. 18) at 7 p.m. On Saturday afternoon at the Dedmon Center, the Highlanders will take on High Point. Tipoff is at 4:30 p.m.

Courtesy of Radford Athletics
Courtesy of Radford Athletics