Like many of its conference games during its losing streak, the Radford men’s basketball team found itself fighting uphill from the outset Saturday night at High Point. This time, though, the Highlanders found ways to get over the proverbial hump and pull out a thrilling 69-68 overtime victory on the road.
Radford withstood a last-second basket by High Point to send it into the extra period and survived when another a game-winning attempt at the end of overtime missed.
The Highlanders led for just 5:01 in the game and not until the final minute of regulation, but went ahead for the final time on Christian Bradford’s acrobatic driving layup that made it 67-65 with 47 seconds left. Donald Hicks then hit two free throws with 14 seconds to play, but High Point came back with a 3-pointer by Andre Fox. The Panthers then got a steal on the ensuing inbounds pass in the corner and kept possession on a held ball with four seconds on the clock. Fox then got an open on a 3-pointer from the right wing, but it was long and left, giving the Highlanders the hard-fought victory.
Three Radford players finished with double-doubles as the Highlanders recorded a season-high 59 rebounds. Ed Polite, Jr. posted his 11th double-double, with 14 points – all in the second half – and 10 rebounds. Hicks and Randy Phillips, recorded their first and second double-doubles, respectively, each totaling 10 points and 12 rebounds. Darius Bolstad added 12 points and six boards and four blocks.
Another cold start put Radford in a hole early as they made just 3 of their first 16 shots and all 12 3-point attempts in the first half. High Point built a 24-14 lead with 3:16 before halftime, getting nine points from Miles Bowman Jr. and four 3-pointers. The Highlanders were able to stay close, thanks to a dominating 31-16 rebounding advantage, including 15 on the offensive end that led to eight second chance points. Bolstad got four of those late in the half to make it 26-20 at the break.
Justin Cousin hit the team’s first 3-pointer – and first points outside the paint – on the opening possession of the second half and two dunks by Polite, Jr. made it a two-point deficit. High Point, though, answered with 11 of the next 15 points, pushing its lead back up to nine and so began a recurring theme for most of the second half as the Panthers’ held off Radford each time it got close.
It was an five-point margin at the final media timeout but Bolstad hit two free throws and a 3-pointer by Hicks from the corner tied it at 54-54 with 2:13 to play. High Point went back ahead by two, but Polite, Jr. responded with back-to-back baskets, putting the Highlanders up for the first time, 58-56 with 37 seconds left. Radford then had a chance to seal it at the line, but missed the front end of a one-and-one and Fox drained a 12-point jumper to tie it.
However, Radford struck first in the overtime on another 3-pointer by Hicks and never trailed, although the Panthers tied it on two occasions. Phillips and Bolstad then got baskets off of offensive rebounds, the latter making it 65-63 with 3:06 left. High Point tied it for the last time on a layup by Anthony Lindauer before Bradford beat the defense down the right side of the layup for the final go-ahead points.
In the battle between the Big South’s top two rebounding teams, Radford finished with a 59-35 advantage, including a season-high 21 offensive, leading to 14 second-chance points. High Point had 41-30 edge in its win when the teams played last month.
The Highlanders also outscored the Panthers 42-22 in the paint in this one.
Radford shot 52 percent in the second half and made 4 of 8 shots in the overtime. After a 28-percent performance in the first half, it finished at 39 percent for the game. The Highlanders made 5 of 12 3-pointers in the final 25 minutes after missing their first 12 attempts.
High Point was more consistent throughout, but was in the 30-percent range in each half and finished at 36 percent at the end.
Polite, Jr., who was hampered in the first half by early foul trouble, was five for eight from the field and four of six at the free-throw line, while nine of his rebounds came in the second half. Bolstad was also an efficient 5 for 7 from the field.
Hicks scored 10 of his points after halftime and his 12 rebounds were a career-high. Phillips’ 12 rebounds tied a career-best and included six on the offensive end.
Justin Cousin added nine points and six rebounds, while Caleb Tanner had six points on two 3-pointers, including a big one late with Radford trailing by eight. Bradford totaled six points and a team-high three assists.
Radford overcame a halftime deficit to win for just the second time in 15 opportunities this season, while improving to 3-1 in overtime games. The Highlanders also snapped a three-game losing streak to High Point, but won in the Panthers’ gym for the fourth time in the last five visits.
Lindauer scored a game-high 17 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead High Point.
However, Bowman Jr., who had scored 24 in the team’s first meeting, totaled just 12 and only three after the first five minutes. He was four of 15 from the field. Fox added 13 points, but was just one of six on 3-pointers.
“I like the way this team responds when they get challenged and we challenged them with the fact that High Point was tougher than us when we played at Radford. There’s nothing any of us as coaches can do. They’ve got to figure it out, and they really figured it out. That 59 (rebounds) is a beautiful number. The defense was consistent throughout, even the shots they made were tough shots and we can live with those as long as we make all of them tough. I’m just really proud of these guys. They’ve been resilient and who’s to say we won’t face more adversity, but it’s not about what you face, it’s about how you respond to it. We were just determined to not let what happened during the course of the game affect how we played, and we played until the final horn,” said Radford head coach Mike Jones.