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The Radford University Women’s Basketball team played their final two home and regular season games of the year Thursday, Feb. 28, and Saturday, March 2. The squad split the two games with a loss to Presbyterian College and a win against Gardner-Webb University.
Presbyterian was the first opponent of the two games for the Highs, a team that was downright silenced by RU the last time they met at Presbyterian on Jan. 12. The 49-31 victory was arguably the team’s strongest defensive outing of the entire season.
The result for last Thursday’s game had a bit of a different result, however. The Highs started out solidly, leading the game 8-7 early in the first half.
Presbyterian, known for defense, flattened RU from there on out. The Blue Hose went on a 23-8 scoring run to end the first half and push the score to 30-16 in their favor.
PC carried their first half momentum well into the second half, using another scoring run of 14-1 to stretch their lead to 26 points to put up a score of 47-21 near the midway point of the second half.
The Highs made 73 percent of their free throws in the contest, but aside from that shot only 29.6 percent overall including 0-of-8 from three point territory.
On the other end, Presbyterian shot 57 percent from the floor in addition to draining three out of five shots from the perimeter. Karlee Taylor hit all three of Presbyterian’s three point conversions.
“Today we just came out and brought our deflated energy to this one,” said Head Coach Tajama Abraham Ngongba. “We didn’t do a very good job of moving and sharing the ball around, which we typically are able to do.”
Senior guard Ashley Buckhannon led both teams in scoring, dropping 10 points from the field and adding five more at the free throw line. Buckhannon also stripped the ball from PC four times in the game.
Senior forward Sarah Tabb was the only other Highlander to score in double digits, making four out of seven shots from the field and chalking up ten points overall.
Center Mariah Pietrowski scored 14 points on 67 percent shooting and pulled down eight rebounds in only 23 minutes of playing time for the Blue Hose.
“We had some turnovers and key plays where we needed to get a score but couldn’t convert,” said Tabb. “They are simple mistakes that we will be able to clear up by Saturday.”
True to her word, the team cleaned up their ball control and shared the ball much more efficiently during Saturday’s game against Gardner-Webb University.
The Highs never gave up their lead in a 70-64 win that included 16 assists against the Bulldogs to cap off the regular season.
Senior Ashley Buckhannon shined on senior day after scoring 23 points, draining nine points from beyond the arc, making all eight shots from the free throw line, and stealing the ball six times from Gardner-Webb.
Senior guard Victoria Hamilton shot 6-of-11 from the field to tally 13 points and also had a game-tying high of six assists in the game.
Freshman guard Aisha Foy contributed nine points on three 3-pointers in the contest.
Gardner-Webb heavily outrebounded the Highs 53-31 and had 28 offensive rebounds, but the effort was not enough to overcome a hot shooting RU team. Catrina Green had 14 rebounds and Candace Brown pulled down ten of her own for the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
To counter the abundance of rebounds from GWU, RU had a total of ten blocks from seven different players that allowed Gardner-Webb to only convert on 39 percent of their second chance opportunities.
With the win, the team snapped a three game losing streak and ended the regular season with an above .500 record of 14-13. RU is 9-9 in Big South Conference play, which put them in sixth place in the conference.
Liberty University took first place in the BSC with an overall record of 24-6, holding a whopping 16 wins to a mere two losses in conference play.
The Conference Tournament begins Wednesday at 2 p.m. for the Highs when they take on 11th seeded UNC Asheville in hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals.