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Radford completes huge comeback to beat Longwood in conference opener

Highlanders won 71-64

RADFORD, Va.

(via Radfrord Athletics) After trailing by as many as 14 points, the Radford men's basketball stormed back with an unrelenting run in the second half to blow past Longwood, 71-64, at the Dedmon Center on Saturday.

Still down by double-digits with just seven minutes left to play, the Highlanders dug deep and rode the energy of a big crowd to their largest comeback of the season. Junior center Devonnte Holland got the run started with a spin move in the post and a pair of free throws. Senior forward Ed Polite Jr. then hit two free throws of his own before converting a Travis Fields Jr. steal into a ferocious alley-oop that brought the fans to their feet.

It wasn't until the 3:56 mark that Radford managed to come all the way back and tie the game at 57-all following a floater in the lane by redshirt sophomore guard Carlik Jones. Moments later, junior guard Donald Hicks drilled an off-balance jumper as the shot clock expired to give the Highlanders a lead they would never relinquish.

Radford finished the game by connecting on 10 straight free throws including eight from Jones to seal the victory. The Cincinnati, Ohio native tied his career high with 24 points on 5-of-10 shooting and a career-best 13-of-15 from the charity stripe. He added seven rebounds and six assists as well.

Matching a career high he set just last game, Holland poured in 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor. He was also 6-for-7 from the free throw line in his biggest performance to date. As a team, the Highlanders went 29-for-38 on free throws, the most they have taken in a single game since playing VMI in 2007 when they made 43 of them.

With the win, Radford improves to 9-6 overall and 1-0 in the Big South, giving them a 1-0 conference record for the fourth consecutive season. Meanwhile, Longwood drops to 10-6 overall and 0-1 in Big South play. The Highlanders have now come back from a 10+ point deficit in three games this season: Notre Dame, No. 17 Texas and Longwood.

It was an uncharacteristically tough first half for the Highlanders as the Lancers showed off their team speed and shooting prowess en route to a lead as big as 14 points.

Shabooty Phillips and Jaylon Wilson kicked off the game with back-to-back threes from way behind the arc and after Holland finally scored Radford's first basket at the 16:07 mark, Longwood built its lead to 12-2 with three straight layups.

Free throws kept the Highlanders in the game as they made 17 trips to the charity stripe in the first half alone, but only 11 of those attempts found the bottom of the net. Radford did manage to create some momentum heading into halftime, finishing the first half on a 7-1 run to pull within 36-29.

PLAY OF THE GAME

2H | 4:06

Radford 55
Longwood 57

ED POLITE ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?! Jones throws it up, and Polite brings it down!!!#RiseAndDefend | #BigSouthMBB pic.twitter.com/sJjs0lOdLs

- Radford Men's Basketball (@RadfordMBB) January 5, 2019


AROUND THE BIG SOUTH
Winthrop 80, UNC Asheville 65
Presbyterian 64, USC Upstate 61
Campbell 72, Gardner-Webb 61
High Point 51, Charleston Southern 50

QUOTABLE
"There are a lot of really good teams with really good players and coaches in the Big South and we expect that kind of effort from everyone we play this season. We have to expect everyone's best shot every time out and tonight I was disappointed with the way we started the game. We allowed those guys to build a big lead, but I was proud of the way we came together and fought to the end." - Head Coach Mike Jones

UP NEXT
The Highlanders get back on the road, this time to Spartanburg, S.C where they will face off with USC Upstate for the first time as Big South foes. The game is slated for Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. in the G.B. Hodge Center.

FOLLOW RADFORD MEN'S BASKETBALL
To follow the Radford men's basketball team, visit RadfordAthletics.com, follow @RadfordMBB on Twitter, 'radfordmbb' on Instagram or Radford Men's Basketball on Facebook.