Publish Date: 03/13/2018
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis
Long Island against Radford may seem like an unexciting matchup to kick off the NCAA Tournament with, but on Tuesday night at the UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio before a large crowd, both teams battled it out in front of an emotional crowd that hung on every pass and shot.
The game was played with all the intensity of an NCAA Championship game. Radford seemed to me to be the superior team led by big-men Ed Polite Jr. and Randy Phillips. Radford seemed in control at the beginning of the game jumping to an 8-3 lead behind a monster drive and dunk by Ed Polite Jr.
Every time though Radford looked ready to extend their lead, but LIU would respond. Some of the biggest plays for the Blackbirds were by guard Joe Hernandez, who hit a key 3-pointer with 30 seconds left and cut the Radford lead to just 30-28 at the half.
Radford exploded out of the gate to start the second half with Donald Hicks hitting a three-pointer. The next four minutes, though, saw the Blackbirds respond to take a 38-35 lead on a three-pointer by Julian Batts.
Radford then responded with nine unanswered points topped off by a three-pointer by Travis Fields Jr. that gave Radford a 44-38 with 13:39 left in the game. Coming out of an LIU time-out the Donald Hicks show continued as Hicks hit a three coming out of the time-out and followed it up with a driving basket and all of the sudden Radford had grabbed a 49-42 lead halfway through the second half. Hicks picked up his fourth foul with nine minutes remaining in the game with Radford up 53-46.
To make matters worse, big-man Randy Phillips picked up his fourth foul and had to leave the game just 30 seconds later. Even with two of their best players on the bench, Radford stretched the lead to 57-49. Then it was time for the Julian Batts show as he hit back to back threes to cut the Radford lead to 57-55 with 6:30 to go in the game.
LIU was causing problems for Radford with a fullcourt trap they started using halfway through the second half and they cut the lead to just one with 5 minutes left. Donald Hicks fouled out with 4:37 to go in the game with Radford up 61-59. Travis Fields Jr. hit a three-pointer with 3:20 left to put Radford up by 5 points. Devontee Holland finished a great post move and scored with 2:42 to go, stretching Radford’s lead to 66-59.
A Devonnte Holland put-back off a missed shot stretched the lead to 9 points with a little over a minute left and the game was pretty much over from there on out. Radford called timeout with 19 seconds left and emptied the bench. Radford won 71-61 and will advance on to the next round of the tournament.