RADFORD, Va. –
(Via Radford Athletics) Using a monster first half and having all 10 members of the team that saw the floor contribute in a big way, the Radford men's basketball team earned an 85-79 victory over Winthrop at the Dedmon Center Wednesday night.
Junior forward Ed Polite Jr. recorded his second straight double-double, pouring in 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting including a career-high five 3-pointers while pulling down 12 rebounds. He added two assists and two steals for good measure.
Senior center Randy Phillips had a huge game in the post for Radford, scoring a career-high 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and the third of his career. Every single Radford player that got in the game scored at least three points.
With the win, Radford extends its win streak to four games and improves its record to 9-6 overall including a 2-0 mark in the Big South. Winthrop drops to 7-6 on the season and 1-1 in conference play with the loss.
The first half was one to remember for the Highlanders (9-6, 2-0 Big South) who came out motivated against one of the Big South's perennial contenders and posted a season-high 53 points in the period.
Both teams were hot to start and the scored stood 12-11 with Radford holding a slim lead at the 16:03 mark. It was then that the Highlanders really turned on the jets and burst out on a 12-0 run across five minutes to push that lead to 24-11.
Two more runs of the 8-0 and 9-0 variety later in the half pushed the home sides' lead all the way to 24 with just under two minutes to play until halftime. The half ended with the Highlanders leading by 22 points.
Everyone who has seen them play knew Winthrop wouldn't go down without a fight and they sure didn't. The Eagles outscored the Highlanders 48-32 in the second half to make it a close contest late.
Bjorn Broman ignited a strong offensive half from the visitors, starting with a 7-0 run that made it 55-38 with 16:57 to go. The Highlanders hit right back with a 7-0 run of their own over the next three minutes to protect their lofty lead.
Winthrop added runs of 10-0 from 13:34 to 9:39 and 7-0 from 3:43 to 2:20 to chip away at their deficit. A Broman 3-pointer with 22 seconds to go cut Radford's lead down to single-digits for the first time 13:54 appeared on the clock in the first half.
Despite the push, the Highlanders managed to hang on thanks to timely buckets and strong free throw shooting down the stretch. Senior guard Christian Bradford scored six of his 12 points in the final four minutes to secure the victory.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- Radford improves its all-time series record against Winthrop to 37-35
- 85 points mark a new season-high for the Highlanders
- The Highlanders dominated on the boards despite Winthrop coming in as the top rebounding team in the conference, out-rebounding the Eagles 46-29
- Radford's bench was much more productive than Winthrop's, scoring 24 points to their three
- Polite Jr. has scored in double-digits in four straight games for the second time this season. He had a similar streak between Nov. 25th vs. JMU and Dec. 6th at Virginia Tech
- Radford's 53 points scored in the first half was the most the team has scored in a single half this season
- The Highlanders collected 15 assists on 29 made baskets
- Sophomore guard Donald Hicks struggled shooting, but made his presence felt with seven rebounds and three assists
- Winthrop's Xavier Cooks came into Wednesday's showdown leading his team in points, rebounds and assists, but was held to three points, two rebounds and two assists in the first half
- Five different Eagles finished with double-digit points: Bjorn Broman (29), Anders Broman (13), Pickett (13), Cooks (11) and Ferguson (10)
"Defensively we set the tone from the beginning and I was really proud of our effort. The first half was great right from the get-go, especially to hold them to 34 percent shooting. We can't count on making shots the way we did in the first half, but even if we didn't shoot the ball very well in the beginning I think we still would've had a lead because of our defensive intensity. We knew they were a championship caliber team and down the stretch they didn't lie down and hand us the win. We showed some poise late in the game and made our free throws when we needed to. It was a nice way to finish the job." - Head Coach Mike Jones
- Radford moves on from Winthrop only the turn its attention to UNC Asheville, another top Big South team
- The Highlanders and Bulldogs will square off in the Dedmon Center on Saturday, Jan. 6th at 4 p.m.
- Tickets are available at radfordathletics.com or by calling the ticket office at (540) 831-7889