Junior forward Jayda Worthy poured in a career-high 20 points as Radford shot a blistering 49.1 percent from the floor to hold off a late second half charge by Gardner-Webb for a 67-57 Big South opening win.
The Big South opener win is the first for the Highlanders since an 81-59 decision at UNC Asheville on Jan. 3, 2011. The win also marked the first Big South opening date home win since January 5, 2009 when Radford defeated Gardner-Webb 82-74.
Worthy’s career night came on a seven of nine performance from the floor, making six of nine from the charity stripe. The Toledo, Ohio product finished with three steals, the fourth three-steal performance of her career.
Radford and Gardner-Webb traded points in the opening quarter, which saw 12 combined turnovers. The Highlanders closed out the quarter on a 10-1 run as Alexis Jackson and Destinee Walker knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the final 1:13 to give Radford a 19-12 lead.
The Highlanders forced seven more turnovers in the second quarter, scoring 13 points off the 13 Gardner-Webb miscues in the first half. Khiana Johnson provided a spark off the Radford bench in the quarter. Johnson entered the game at the end of the first quarter and played all 10 minutes in the second, tallying eight of Radford’s 15 points.
The duo of Worthy and Johnson went on an 11-0 run in the quarter to extend the Highlander lead to 32-16.
Worthy (9), Johnson (8) and Walker (7) combined for 24 for Radford’s 34 points as the Highlanders went into the locker room with a 34-23 advantage. Radford made 14 of 31 attempts from the floor, assisting on nine field goals.
Radford opened the second half on a 15-7 run as Worthy rattled off eight points on two layups and a fast break layup off of one of Jen Falconer’s game-high six assists to give the Highlanders their largest lead at 19 (49-30) with 5:23 remaining in the quarter.
After Radford built the lead to 19 points the Runnin’ Bulldogs went running with a 22-6 run into the fourth quarter. Alexus Hill added eight of 16 points during the run and Tierra Huntsman contributed two clutch 3-pointers. Back-to-back baskets by Hill cut the once substantial Radford lead to a mere three points (57-54) with 4:09 left on the clock.
Regaining their composure, Radford knocked down five of eight free throws, ending the contest on a 10-3 clip to hold on for a 67-57 conference opening win.
As a team, Radford has shot over 40-percent on seven different occasions. The 49.1 field goal percentage matches a season high, coming at UNC Greensboro on December 2. In that contest, Radford shot and identical 26 for 53 from the field.
Gardner-Webb finished with a 42.3 shooting percentage, marking the first time a Radford opponent has shot over 40-percent.
The Highlanders assisted on 17 of 26 made field goals for a season high in assists.
Jayda Worthy’s previous career high of 19 points came on two different occasions with the last coming versus High Point in the 2016 Big South Tournament. The 20-point performance is the fourth by a Highlander on the current roster. Destinee Walker has two on the season.
Finishing with her 10th double-figure scoring performance on the season, Walker finished with 10 points. The sophomore has finished with seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. The five assists are a career high.
Khiana Johnson finished with 11 points off the bench. Jen Falconer dished out a season-high assists, the most by a Highlander this season. Claudia Quevedo had with nine points on a three for five showing from behind the arc. The redshirt sophomore is seven for 11 in the last two games.
Radford forced 20 turnovers, finishing with a season-high 12 steals. The Highlanders scored 24 points off the Gardner-Webb miscues, while scoring 12 points in transition.
Dominating the paint for the eighth time this season, Radford scored 30 off its points in the paint.
“I think our team was looking forward to conference play. Tonight, was a good start against a very tough opponent in Gardner-Webb. I thought we played well in stretches, but we need to understand how to play with a decent sized lead. It was good to see us move the ball well in the half court, which showed in the 17 assists. We will need to continue to build on that. We scored 67 points, but we left some points off the board in the first half against their pressure. A lot of positives from tonight’s win to build on,” said Radford head coach Mike McGuire.
— Courtesy of RU Athletics