Carlik Jones’ desperation three-point attempt at the buzzer hit the back iron and not the net as the highlanders lost a heartbreaker 60-58 to the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) Sunday at the Dedmon Center.
The finish was a tough one for Jones, who had a brilliant game. The redshirt junior guard poured in 29 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out three assists.
The Highlanders actually came within the one shot of pulling off what would have been a miraculous last-minute comeback. UNCG led 60-53 with less than a minute to play. Jones ran the floor and laid the ball in with 53 seconds. Guard Donald Hicks hit a free throw, and Devine Eke, Radford’s leading rebounder, put back a missed shot to make it a 60-58 game with 39 seconds left.
Despite a later flurry, that wound up as the final score.
UNCG ended the first half on a 19-4 run and carried a 31-22 lead into halftime. The Highlanders hung around for most of the second half, keeping it a two-possession contest. That was until the Spartans went on a 9-0 run took their largest lead of the game (13) at the 7:42 mark.
Jones and the Highlanders responded with a 13-4 run highlighted by eight points from Jones and a trio of 3-pointers. That cut the UNCG deficit to four points, 57-53, with 2:41 remaining. Radford shot 51.9 percent from the floor in the second half, almost 10 percent higher than it did in the first half.
Troubles at the free-throw line kept the Highlanders from claiming the win. Radford left 11 points on the foul line, converting only 6-for-17 free throws, their worst shooting of the season. They also tied a season high with 14 turnovers.
Jones was the only player for Radford to score in double figures. He led all players with 29 points, two shy of his career-high. He made a career-high 11 field goals and shot a season-high 73.3 percent (11-for-15) from the floor. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native also made a career-best five 3-pointers going 5-for-7 from deep. He’s shooting 51.6 percent from 3-point range this season. Travis Fields, Jr., tacked on five assists.
“It was another great game between two good teams,” Radford head coach Mike Jones said. “Unfortunately, they found a way to make enough plays to win.”
Radford will hit the road for the next three contests, two of which are at neutral locations. The first is at Ellet High School in Akron, Ohio, against Duquesne Saturday,at 2 p.m