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Radford Men’s Basketball fell twice in close matches to in-state rivals Virginia Military Institute and Liberty University. On Jan. 26, the Keydets of VMI, one of the leading teams in scoring in the nation, handed the first of these two losses to the Highlanders.
Neither team was able to get control in the first half. After the first 20 minutes, both teams were at a 30-30 tie. VMI was finally able to get a foothold over the Highs in the second half though, and with a little over 13 minutes remaining, the Keydets held a 41-35 lead; from there Radford wasn’t able to catch them and VMI came away with a 65-60 win over Radford.
In the final minutes of the game the Highs came close to catching VMI. With just 1:12 remaining in the game, RU cut VMI’s lead to 61-57, but they just didn’t have enough time.
Despite how they’re currently ranked, the Highs were able to hold the Keydets to 37 percent shooting in field goals in the first half, and VMI’s junior forward Stan Okoye led the Keydets in scoring with 23 points. Freshman guard Javonte Green led the Highlanders with 23 points.
The game was a rough physical match, as the two teams togethercombined for 43 fouls.
On Jan. 28, Radford suffered a similar loss to Liberty Flames. The win for the Flames was their fourth victory in a row over the Highs in the past four years.
Radford led 29-24 after the first half, but the Flames were able to overcome the deficit to eventually take a 67-65 victory over RU.
In the first five minutes of the second half the Flames tied the score at 36-36 and from there they took control of the pace of the game.
“We’ve got to do a better job defensively,” said senior forward Johnathan Edwards after the loss to Liberty. “Just keeping them out of the paint.”
Edwards missed a good portion of the season due to an injury to his hand.
“We need a lot of size,” said junior guard Blake Smith. “So it’s good to have Johnathan back.”
Smith scored four points on the night, and grabbed six rebounds for the Highs.
“They beat us badly on the glass,” said Head Coach Mike Jones. “And we fouled them way too much. In the first half I think they only went to the line five times so I thought we were locked in on the game plan and not letting them get to the free throw line as quickly in the first half. They just did a better job of doing that in the second half.”
The losses over the weekend give Radford a record of 4-20 (1-11 in the Big South), and their next game will be Thursday, Feb. 2 against Winthrop at 7 p.m. at Dedmon.
“We keep battling and giving ourselves a chance to win,” Jones said. “At the end of the day you have to produce, you have to make those plays and today I think in the second half particularly they made an effort to go inside and we got a lot of fouls called on us, and we were not playing a good as we needed to and they took advantage of it.”
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