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Late Run Lifts Highlanders Over Flames In Big South Action
The Highlanders outscored the Flames 21-8 over the last five minutes of the game to open up a close battle between their arch rival as Radford picked up a 69-54 Big South victory over Liberty, Saturday afternoon, at the Dedmon Center in a game that was regionally televised on the Big South Television Network.
With the victory, the Highlanders raise their conference record to 8-6 (15-11 overall), allowing Radford to retain possession of fourth place in the league standings and a strong possibility of hosting a first round Big South Championship game. The loss drops Liberty's league record to 2-11 (6-20 overall) and leaves Liberty tied with VMI for the last spot in the upcoming championship.
Both teams struggled from the field on the day as Radford finished the game shooting 31.4 percent from the field (16-of-51), while Liberty shot it second lowest percentage of the year as the team finished the game 27.4 percent from the floor (17-of-62) which included the Flames going 0-of-9 from the field to start both halves of the contest.
Radford scored the first nine points of the game as a pair of free throws by Whit Holcomb-Faye gave the Highlanders a 9-0 lead with 15:05 left to play in the first. The Flames finally got on the scoreboard as Larry Blair (Jr., G, Charlotte, N.C.) sank a jumper from the lane just 17 seconds later.
And Blair's shot jumper started the Flames' offense as Liberty scored 10-straight points to take a 10-9 lead on a jumper by Anthony Smith (Fr., G, Plano, Texas) at the 10:32 mark. For most of the remaining half, the game was a back-and-forth battle with Radford holding the largest lead at four points, 18-14, after a three-pointer by Holcomb-Faye with 5:19 left before the intermission.
But the Flames clamped down on the defensive end of the floor, holding the Highlanders to just four points over the last five minutes, while Liberty closed the halve on an 11-1 run with Blair's three-pointer with eight seconds left before the break giving the Flames a seven-point lead at halftime, 29-22.
A lay-up by Reggie McIntyre just 13 seconds into the second half helped spur the Highlanders as Radford opened the period on a 12-2 run, regaining the lead after Holcomb-Faye nailed three free throws at the 13:25 mark to give Radford a 34-31 edge.
Liberty regained the lead on a lay-up by Smith with 11:29 left to play, 37-36, but the Highlanders put together their second 12-2 run, taking a nine-point lead, 48-39, on an old fashion three-point play by McIntrye at the 7:04 mark.
Liberty reeled off six-straight points and pulled within two points, 48-46, as Blair hit one of two free throw attempts with 5:07 left to play, but Radford held the Flames to just three more field goals over the remainder of the game and the Highlanders were 15-of-16 from the free throw line down the stretch to end the game on a 21-8 run and seal the victory.
Holcomd-Faye recorded his fifth 30-point game of the year as he netted a game high 36 points on 8-of-20 shooting from the field and 15-of-17 from the free throw line, while McIntrye added a double-double with 19 points and a game high 12 rebounds.
Blair led the way for the Flames as he had 21 points, but was held to just 6-of-24 shooting from the field, while adding eight rebounds to tie for team high rebounding honors. Smith followed with 13 points, while Eric Bigby (Jr., F, Meade, Md.) scored 10 points including eight in the first half.
The Flames return to action on Monday evening when they host conference-leading Winthrop in the Vines Center at 7 p.m., while the Highlanders travel to VMI on Thursday for their final regular season road game of the year.