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Sharp shooting, stifling defense helps Radford knock off Presbyterian

Radford defeats Presbyterian (WSLS)

CLINTON, S.C. – Hot shooting and solid defense was the difference on Saturday night as the Radford men’s basketball team knocked off Presbyterian, 75-64, at the Templeton Center in Clinton, S.C.

The Highlanders (10-7, 5-0 Big South) ended the game making eight of its final 11 field goals and had a stretch where they converted eight of nine from the floor. During the second half Radford shot 55.2 percent and went 4-for-10 from beyond the arc. All four 3-pointers came from Donald Hicks, who tied a career-high with 19 points.

Defensively, the Highlanders held the Blue Hose - who entered the game with a 4-0 Big South record - without a field goal for a 5:36 stretch late in the second half. Throughout that time PC only managed to get points six points - all from free throws. They misfired on four shot attempts and had two turnovers, while the Highlanders took advantage on the offensive end.

Presbyterian (7-11, 4-1 Big South) opened the second half on a 9-2 run and took a 38-37 lead after heading to the locker room trailing 35-29. With 16:32 on the clock, Hicks hit his first 3-pointer of the second half and gave Radford the lead, 40-38. That ignited an 11-4 run that gave the Highlanders a six-point advantage with 13:12 remaining.

Each team traded a layup and then Radford sparked another mini run to pull ahead by 10 points, 56-46, just under the 10-minute mark. A free throw and a quick 3-pointer by PC’s Sean Jenkins cut the Highlander lead to six. That’s when Carlik Jones and Divine Eke took over, scoring the next 10 Highlander points and giving Radford a 64-52 lead with 4:41 to play. During the 2:19 stretch, the Highlanders didn’t miss a field goal attempt scoring all five trips down the floor. Eke had six of the points, while Jones had four.

Radford kept its foot on the gas pedal and went up by as many as 14 points on two separate occasions. The Highlanders clung to a double-digit lead for the final six minutes of the contest and picked up their seventh win decided by 10 or more points.

The first half was neck-and-neck and saw six ties and five lead changes. With the game tied at 16, a 3-pointer by Travis Fields Jr., and a jump shot by Hicks gave Radford a 21-16 advantage - the largest lead for either team at the time.

The Highlanders closed out the half on a 10-4 run and Chyree Walker had the exclamation point with an emphatic dunk as the clock hit zero. His dunk gave Radford a six-point lead at the break.

Radford shot 51.9 percent as a team in the first half and increased it to 55.2 percent in the second half. The 53.6 field goal percentage for the game is the highest the Highlanders have shot in any conference game this season.

STAT OF THE GAME- With the win, Radford has started conference play 5-0 for the second consecutive season and fifth time overall.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE- Jones picked up his ninth 20-plus point game this season. He led the team in points, rebounds (seven) and assists (six). Hicks connected on a season-high five 3-pointers and went 7-for-13 from the floor. He also had a team-high seven rebounds like Jones. Fields Jr., continued his streak of double-digit points pushing it to six straight games after tallying 11 on Saturday. He also contributed five assists, good for second-most on the team. Devonnte Holland, Lewis Djonkam, Eke and Walker combined for 23 points but also had 16 fouls between the four of them.

TWEET OF THE GAME

HALF Radford 35, Presbyterian 29That's the way to end a half! Fields Jr., finds Walker for the emphatic flush ??#RiseAndDefend x #BigSouthMBB pic.twitter.com/zH6ROw05Vw

- Radford Men’s Basketball (@RadfordMBB) January 18, 2020

QUOTABLE"I was just so proud of the way our team got in the paint and shared the ball," Mike Jones said. “Once they started doing that, the whole thing opened up. Donald (Hicks) made some really big shots and tonight was a lot of fun.”

UP NEXT-Radford will conclude its tough stretch of three games in five days with another unbeaten team in the Big South. Winthrop makes a trip to the Dedmon Center on Monday night for a 7 p.m., tip-off.

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