Highlanders earn first-ever win over Mountaineers
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With the game on the line and the clock racing towards all zeroes, DaQuan Smith knocked down the game-winning shot to give the Radford men’s basketball team a 66-65 win over West Virginia at WVU Coliseum on Wednesday night, Dec. 20.
The Highlanders missed the chance to tie the game at 65-all with a missed free throw, but they turned the page to the next play and made the most of it. When the Mountaineers missed the front end of a one-and-one on their end, Radford pushed the ball up the court and into the hands of Smith.
The redshirt senior didn’t panic, even as the ball slipped from his hands, as he collected it and rose above a defender before hitting nothing but net to give his team a 66-65 lead with just 1.5 seconds left. A heave fell short for WVU and elation spread throughout Highlander Nation, knowing the Mountaineers were felled for the first time in program history.
With neither team shooting above 35.0% from the field by halftime, defense reigned supreme for the first 20 minutes of action.
The Mountaineers started the scoring with a layup by Akok Akok, gaining a narrow lead that never grew beyond four points in the period. Radford’s big men produced some scoring punch midway through, as Justin Archer and D’Auntray Pierce scored six straight points to give the Highlanders a 15-14 lead – their first of the game – at the 9:06 mark.
It was yet another back-and-forth affair from there, as the Highlanders and their hosts traded buckets, and many more missed shots, until Radford took a 29-28 lead into the break.
Bryan Antoine and DaQuan Smith combined for just three points on 1-of-14 shooting (1-for-8 from three) in the period while WVU got just six points up to that point from players who were eligible to play this time last week.
Shots didn’t exactly fall in the second half either, as the Highlanders shot just 43.3% from the field and 30.8% from deep in the final period.
Leading 41-37 with 16:07 on the clock, Radford went without a field goal for more than four minutes, allowing WVU to slide in for a 43-41 lead that eventually became 54-52 at the 7:07 mark.
The Mountaineers led for the entire rest of the contest, that is, until Smith’s shot sent the Highlanders home happy.
NOTES & STATS
Radford’s 29 first-half points were its fewest this season (previously 33 at VCU)
The Highlanders are now 8-2 this season when leading at halftime.
WVU went 0-for-10 from three in the first half. Radford entered the night ranked 42nd in the nation in three-point defense (28.9%).
Rae’Quan Battle led all scorers with 29 points in his debut for the Mountaineers.
The game featured 15 different lead changes.
Radford will take time to celebrate the holidays with friends and family before refocusing just in time to play Clemson in the final non-conference game of the year. The Highlanders and Tigers will face off on Friday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. with all the action being streamed live on ACC Network Extra.