Commonwealth foe Longwood came into the Dedmon Center last season and spoiled Radford’s Alumni Day and the Lancers were threatening to do it again Saturday, but this time the Highlanders made the big plays down the stretch to come away with a key 79-72 win.
Donald Hicks tied a career-high with 19 points, while Ed Polite, Jr. notched his 13th double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while adding three blocks, three steals and two assists. Christian Bradford added 13 points and three assists, and Justin Cousin chipped in 11 points to give Radford four players in double figures.
Radford overcame a nine-point first half deficit and withstood 32 points from Chris Lane to move into sole possession of sixth place in the Big South.
Longwood started the game 10 of 21 from the field and capitalized on seven Radford turnovers with 14 points to open up a 24-15 lead with 6:41 left in the first half. However, the Highlanders used a 15-6 run the rest of the way to even it up at 30-30 at the break. Caleb Tanner had five of the points, while Hicks and Polite, Jr. each totaled four.
Radford then began the second half by making five of its first six three-pointers and 10 of 13 shots overall. Bradford and Hicks each hit two of the treys, Cousin had the other and Darius Bolstad’s back-to-back baskets gave the Highlanders a 54-46 lead. Longwood, though, was almost good offensively, hitting three 3-pointers of its own, including two by Lane, and a layup by Isaiah Walton evened the game at 57-57.
Hicks countered with a three-pointer to put Radford back in front, but four points by Lane and three from Walton gave the Lancers a 64-61 lead with 5:01 left. Randy Phillips scored off a Bradford assist and Hicks hit his fourth three-pointer to put the Highlanders back in front 66-64.
Lane converted a put back to tie, but Radford took the lead back for good with the next five points. Polite, Jr. made two free throws before Cousin stole the ball from Walton in the backcourt and converted the fast-break layup. Another Polite, Jr. free throw made it 71-66 with 3:01 to play and his driving layup with 2:02 to go pushed the lead to six. After Lane made two free throws, Hicks countered with two on the other end with 26 seconds left and Bradford added two more to seal it.
Radford shot 61 percent from the field in the second half, resulting a season-high 52.9 percent for the game. The Highlanders were nine of 20 behind the arc, including seven of 11 in the second 20 minutes, leading to 49 points after the break, their highest total in any half this season.
Hicks scored 15 of his points after halftime and was six for nine from the field overall, including four of five three-pointers, while adding seven rebounds and three assists. The 19 points matched his total against Central Penn.
Polite, Jr. helped keep Radford in the game in the first half, tallying 10 of his points. He was seven for 11 from the field in the game, while making four of six free throws.
Cousin scored 10 of his 11 in the second 20 minutes, while Bradford tallied eight of his after the break. Tanner finished with seven points, while Bolstad chipped in six points and four rebounds.
The Highlanders held a 32-29 rebounding advantage and outscored Longwood 30-22 in the paint.
Longwood converted 14 turnovers into 21 points, but Radford committed just five miscues in the second 20 minutes. Lane shot 10 of 17 and made a career-high five three-pointers on eight attempts, while scoring 20 points in the second half alone.
The trio of Lane, Walton and Darrion Allen combined for 62 of the team’s points, with Chris Shields adding eight of the other 10. The Lancers shot 48 percent in the second half and 43 percent for the game.
Radford swept its in-state for the second time since Longwood joined the conference.
“It’s a great win for our team. It’s very difficult to play a team that had lost a bunch of games in a row. They’re coming in very hungry. I thought the end of the first half we stepped up our defensive intensity a little bit and that allowed us to get back in the game and tie it and I thought that was big momentum for us. I told the guys at half that we didn’t play our best, but now we have an opportunity the last 20 minutes to do something. I thought guys stepped up and took and made big shots. Christian Bradford started off the half for us and Donald has been showing signs of how could he could be and tonight he had a special game. Our guys maintained their poise, even when we thought we were going to extend the lead and (Longwood) came back. We showed a lot of resolve, stuck with the gameplan and were able to get looks and get the ball inside and we took care of the ball. Games like this really help you grow as a team, especially with guys that haven’t played in a lot of these close games where they have to make plays. So anytime we can play one of these and win it’s even better,” said Radford head coach Mike Jones.
Radford plays its final home of the regular season Thursday night, as it hosts Presbyterian at 7 p.m.
— Courtesy of RU Athletics