Radford Seniors Finish off Senior Night With an Overtime Win

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Austin White | awhite26@radford.edu

In one of the most entertaining games of the year, the Radford men’s basketball team defeated Presbyterian College 74-68.

Seniors Randy Phillips, Justin Cousin, and Christian Bradford all played vital parts in the victory.

The whole game was a back and forth standoff, with neither team giving the other any room to breathe. Bradford set the tone for the Highlanders early in the first half hitting a deep three from the corner. Cousin followed him up by putting in two three-pointers of his own in the first half.

Presbyterian stuck right with Radford, connecting on multiple threes of their own. Sophomore guard J.C. Younger did not miss a three in the whole half, connecting on four. Radford Coach Mike Jones had the team give Presbyterian a full court press style defense to force a mistake out of their opposition. They played defense in this style for the rest of the game.

Throughout the first half, Radford did a good job scoring inside and out. While Presbyterian was worried about an outside jumper, Radford’s inside presence was creating mayhem as well. Presbyterian senior guard Reggie Dillard was also giving the Highlanders trouble. In the first period, his ability to penetrate and score or pass the ball out to open teammates helped give Presbyterian a 39-33 lead to end the half.

To start the second half, Presbyterian switched from a man to man defense to a 3-2. However, running the zone opened shots for sophomore guard Donald Hicks. Hicks hit on five three-pointers on the night, finishing with fifteen points.

With four minutes left and Radford up 57-56, Coach Jones switched junior forward Ed Polite Jr. on Dillard to try and stop him from scoring. On the next possession, Polite Jr. forced Dillard to turn the ball over giving it back to the Highlanders.

Two possessions later, his man to man defense forced Dillard to throw up an airball. Radford fans made sure he did not forget about that, screaming “Airball” every time he touched the ball.

With two minutes left, Hicks started going cold missing two threes on back to back possessions. The game was in a stalemate with the score being decided by one point for the rest of regulation. Junior guard Davon Bell hit a three-pointer for Presbyterian with 11.2 seconds left giving them a 66-65 lead.

The entire arena was deflated, and a couple of people started getting ready to leave. After a timeout, Coach Jones put the ball in the hands of Polite Jr. who drove to the hole, spun and shot a layup but missed. Phillips grabbed the rebound and tried putting it in the basket but was fouled with one second left.

With everyone in the Dedmon Center on the edge of their seats, Phillips stepped to the free throw line. The first free throw hits the back of the rim and goes out deflating the arena even more; The next free throw, all net. Presbyterian missed a half-court Hail Mary, and the game was sent to overtime.

As soon as overtime started, Phillips picked up right where he left off, immediately scoring a layup to put the Highlanders up by two. He also grabbed key rebounds off Presbyterian missed shots. With the game so close, every rebound Phillips grabbed was very important.

The rest of the game was the Ed Polite Jr. show. He continued his excellent defense, blocking Dillard’s shot once, forcing him to turn the ball over and forcing him to take a bad shot with the shot clock running out.

Moreover, with Radford up three, he hit the most clutch shot of the night, a three-pointer right at the top of the key putting Radford up 74-68 with 10.2 seconds left.

Radford fans stayed and gave the seniors a standing ovation for their high performance capping off an unforgettable senior night.

Photo Credit: (RU Athletics)