Radford University’s women’s basketball team ended one of the most historic seasons in program history with an 80-59 loss to James Madison in the first round of the 2017 WNIT Tournament, Friday night inside the Harrisonburg Convocation Center.
The Highlanders finished with a 24-9 overall record, ranking second in program history for most wins in a season, falling one short of matching the single-season wins record. Radford captured its first regular season championship in 25 years, while earning a trip to the tournament championship game for the first time since 2008.
Radford’s seventh postseason appearance in program history got off to a fast start as the first quarter saw both teams come out guns blazing. At the end of the first 10 minutes, James Madison held a 26-20 lead as Destinee Walker and Precious Hall combined for 18 of the 46 total points. Of the 46 points scored, 26 came inside the paint.
Walker opened the game with eight points on 3 of 3 shooting, while going 2 for 2 from the free throw line. Sydney Nunley came off the Radford bench to add six quick points in the final three minutes of the opening quarter.
The Dukes pushed their lead to nine points to start the second quarter as Radford worked to cut into the lead. A Jen Falconer jumper cut the deficit to 31-26 with 5:17 remaining in the first half.
Looking at a 13-point deficit, Walker grabbed a rebound, racing to the other end for a coast-to-coast layup to make the score 43-32 at halftime. The sophomore led the Highlanders with 12 points in the first half on five of eight shooting.
James Madison corralled nine offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes for 13-second chance points. Hall contributed 16 points for the Dukes, while Savannah Felgemacher grabbed 10 rebounds with six on the offensive glass
A quarter that has haunted the Highlanders all season, Radford went 1 for 11 from the floor in the third quarter as James Madison held a 24-9 scoring edge. The Dukes’ defense held Radford without a field goal for the final 8:09 of the quarter, making 10 of 16 on their own end. Of the 10 made field goals, four came from behind the arc.
Radford went seven for 12 from the charity stripe in the quarter as Jayda Worthy was responsible for the lone field goal.
After making six of its final seven shots to end the third quarter with a 67-41 lead, James Madison pushed its lead to 31 points on a Hall 3-pointer.
Radford received a pair of 3-pointers from Worthy and Walked tallied the final eight points of the game as the Highlanders saw their season end 80-59 at the hands of James Madison.
Making its second WNIT appearances in the last three seasons, Radford fell to 2-4 in the postseason tournament. Radford and James Madison met in the 2008 WNIT as the Dukes came away victorious 80-58.
Rachael Ross closed out her Radford career with her 120th game played, ranking in sole possession of fourth all-time in program history.
Finishing with 20 points on 8 of 15 shooting, Destinee Walker finished the season leading the Highlanders in scoring for the 20th time. The 20-point performance is her seventh on the season.
Walker tallied 460 points in 33 games to rank for 11th most in a single-season in Radford history. Jayda Worthy was the lone other Highlander in double-figures, finishing with 13 points on four of eight shooting. The 13 points inch the junior within 102 points of crossing the 1,000-point plateau.
Worthy finished the season with a .593 field goal percentage, which ranks as third best in program history. Radford finished with a 36.4 field goal percentage, shooting under 40 percent for only the 12th time on the season.
The Dukes finished with a 47.0 percentage, making 31 of 66 shots. Precious Hall led the way with a game-high 23 points, improving her season mark to 777 points, setting the James Madison record for most points scored in a season. Radford finished with a 40-39-rebound advantage.
Janayla White and Walker grabbed eight rebounds each. White finished with four offensive rebounds.
James Madison dominated the paint 38-26 as Radford fell to 5-3 on the season when the opponent controls the paint. Eighty points in the most allowed by the Radford defense on the season.
The Dukes held the Highlanders without a field goal for a 13:05 span in the second half. James Madison scored 14 points off 17 Radford turnovers.
Khiana Johnson finished with a game-high four assists off the bench. Sydney Nunley contributed seven points and five points off the Highlander bench.
“We were right in the game in the first half. I thought rebounding was a major difference. They were +10 in second chance points and we go into the locker room down 11. We generated a couple turnovers in the beginning of the third quarter and didn’t convert on all of them. As the quarter progressed, our inability to hit shots showed. I think the biggest thing that we have to address and work on is our mentality. We need to learn how to approach every game the same way. We have really good players and a cohesive group. We have to work to build that edge about us. We have to play our game and believe that we are really good. If we can do that, we will be right in the mix next year as well,” said Radford head coach Mike McGuire.
— Courtesy of RU Athletics