Leroy Butts IV poured in a career-high 19 points and shot 66.7 percent (9-for-14) from the floor to be the driving force in Radford University’s 94-71 victory over James Madison Wednesday night in the Dedmon Center.
Carlik Jones added his third career double-double with 23 points and 10 assists. Three other Highlanders scored in double-figures as Donald Hicks tallied a season-high 12 points, Devine Eke tacked on 11points and Travis Fields, Jr., scored 10 points. It was the first time this season Radford had five players score in double figures.
The quintet helped the Highlanders score a season-high 94 points and eclipse the 90-point mark for the second time this season. Radford shot 54.3 percent from the floor and 47.4 percent from the 3-point line, both marks season highs.
With five lead changes and four ties in the first nine minutes of play, Radford claimed a 21-20 lead with 11:02 in the half. Eke made the front end of a pair of free throws and a layup on the ensuing possession. That sparked a 10-0 run that gave the Highlanders a 31-20 lead with 6:38 remaining in the first half.
James Madison cut the deficit to five but Radford ended the half on a 19-4 run that saw the team go 6-for-6 from the floor and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. Six different players scored during the stretch, led by Jones’ five. Matt Lewis hit a 3-pointer with three seconds on the clock to make it a 52-35 game at halftime. The 52 points was the most Radford has scored in any half this year.
Ahead by 17, Radford came out of the break with a defensive mindset and held JMU to one basket through the first three minutes. On the other end of the court, Butts was finding a groove. He led a charge that gave Radford a 23-point lead, its largest lead of the contest at the time.
The Highlanders kept the defensive pressure on as the Dukes, who shot only 40 percent from the floor and 28.6 percent from the three-point line in the second half. Radford wasn’t quite as hot in the second half – dropping its field goal percentage from 60.6 to 48.6 – but still kept a 16-point lead or more throughout the half.
Butts gave the Highlanders its largest lead of the night with his 19th point with 2:54 mark to play. That gave Radford a 28-point lead, 90-62, and coach Mike Jones cleared the bench with 2:40 left. Miles Jones and John Caldwell scored the final two points for the Highlanders as they coasted to victory.
The 23-point spreads marks the largest margin of victory for either school in the Radford-James Madison series. The last three wins for Radford over JMU were by a combined five points, and the last four contests between the two schools were decided by a total of 13 points.
Jones led the Highlanders with 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Buttsgrabbed eight boards as Radford outrebounded James Madison 42-33. Radford also recorded 24 assists, surpassing 20 for the first time since 2018. The bench was at it again, outscoring the Dukes’ bench, 28-13.
“It was good to be home,” Coach Jones said. “I’d just like to say thank you to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and what a blessing it is to be a part of the program here at Radford University. Our guys obviously played with a lot of focus right from the beginning of the game. We executed our game plan early on to the tune of shooting 60 percent from the field in the first half. I thought we did a good job of getting into the paint and sharing the ball, and our guards did a great job of not settling for shots early. They touched the paint whether JMU was in man or zone, and when they got in there, they did a really good job of sitting down and dropping down to the bigs. Our team starts with our guards and when they’re playing hard, we’re hard to beat.”
Radford will be back inside the Dedmon Center this afternoon, welcoming UNCG for a 4 p.m., tip-off.