by Ricky Rogers | firstname.lastname@example.org
Men’s basketball clinched a first-round bye in the Big South Tournament as they prevailed versus Presbyterian in their final home game of the season on Thursday night.
Radford (13-17, 8-10) started out hot as they jumped to an early ten-point lead within the first six minutes. Radford had a huge lead and high hopes as the score was 30-17 with a few seconds left on the clock going into the first half—until Reggie Dillard of Presbyterian (5-23, 1-16) made a full-court buzzer-beating bomb to cut it to a 30-20 Radford lead going into the half.
That full-court heave is the shot that changed the game. Radford held Presbyterian to 26% shooting in the first half, but they would end up outscoring Radford 37-29 in the second half. Presbyterian managed to go on a 7-0 run three minutes into the second half to bring them within two.
Radford managed to get back going but Presbyterian was not going down without a fight as they brought the lead back down to two with 5:47 left in the second half. Radford would then pull back away with two huge three-pointers by Christian Bradford to give them a 56-49 lead with 1:47.
At that point, the score seemed unlikely to come back from as long as Radford played smart and conservative with the clock.
But Presbyterian still found a way to come back. They immediately followed up with a three-pointer by Darius Moore and a foul which cut the lead to 58-52, followed by a layup off of a steal to make the game 58-54. Radford got fouled but only connected on one-of-two free throws. Moore then followed up with another three-pointer to make the score 59-57.
Dillard would end missing the three-pointer which would have won Presbyterian the game.
The Highlanders traveled to Buies Creek, N.C. where Campbell awaited them on Saturday for their final regular season match.
Looking for revenge from their 78-61 loss to the Camels on ESPN U on Jan. 26, the Highlanders jumped out to an early 12-6 lead in the first five minutes.
But Campbell wasted no time in taking control of the game, going on a 16-4 run on six-of-seven shooting to take a 22-16 lead. Radford would chip away, but still trailed at halftime, 31-26.
Radford fought back coming out of the break, with two Justin Cousin three-pointers eventually tying things up at 36-36.
Chris Clemons scored the next six for the Camels to regain the lead for Campbell at 42-36, but another run for the Highlanders culminated in a Caleb Tanner three-pointer to give Radford a 46-44 lead with 11 minutes to go.
It was back-and-forth from then on, as Campbell took back the lead and ran out to a four-point lead with 3:16 to go in the game, but a Christian Bradford three-pointer cut the deficit to one with just over three minutes remaining.
The Highlanders were still down by three with just ten seconds left in the game, with an Ed Polite, Jr. layup bringing it to a one-point game, but two Clemons free throws sealed the game for the Camels at 61-58.
Polite grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds on the day, also securing his 500th career rebound in the first half to become the first Highlander in program history to hit that milestone in their sophomore season.
The Highlanders will get a first-round rest in the Big South tournament before taking on No. 3 seed Liberty Thursday, Mar. 2 at 3 p.m. in Rock Hill, S.C.