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Highlanders Advance to Big South Semifinals with Strong Second Half Performance

RADFORD, Va. – The top-seeded Radford men’s basketball team outscored No. 8 Charleston Southern by 16 points in the second half on the way to a 62-48 victory in quarterfinal action of the Hercules Tires Big South Championship on Thursday.

Radford (21-10, 15-3 Big South) was down 29-27 at the break but outscored the Buccaneers 35-19 and outshot them by 20 percent in the second half. Carlik Jones had 15 of his total 21 points in the half, while Donald Hicks and Devonnte Holland added a combined 12 points in the period.

Charleston Southern (14-18, 7-11 Big South) had a seven-point lead, 36-29, with 16:20 to play. Then the Highlanders sprinted to an 8-0 run and took its first lead of the half with 13:58 left.

The spurt continued as the Highlanders pulled ahead, 44-38. Just as the Highlanders gained some momentum, the Bucs came back with a run of their own all put on by Phlandrous Fleming Jr. The Big South First Teamer had seven unanswered points and gave CSU a 45-44 lead with just over nine and a half minutes remaining.

On the next possession, Holland provided Radford the lead for the third and final time in the contest. His layup sparked an 18-0 run that featured 10 points and a few momentum shifting hustle plays from Jones, along with six points from Hicks on a pair of 3-pointers. Hicks went 4-for-5 from the 3-point line and finished with 14 points.

The 18-0 run gave the Highlanders a 62-45 advantage until Deontaye Buskey hit a 3-pointer with 2:19 to play. Neither team scored a basket from that point on and Radford ended the game on an 18-3 run and placed themselves into the semifinals on Friday.

Radford flipped a switch from one half to the next after committing eight turnovers in the first half, including six in the first 12 minutes. The Highlanders only committed six in the second half and ended the game with 14 total turnovers. The defense for Radford locked in and held CSU to 28.6 percent scoring in the second half, including a 15.4 percent 3-point percentage.

After claiming the first lead of the game, the Highlanders had a small scoring drought for a little over six minutes in the first half that led to Charleston Southern’s 18-13 lead. Radford fought back and tied the game at 20 but ultimately Charleston Southern took a two point lead into the locker room.

STAT OF THE GAME

The Highlanders held the Bucs to 48 points. It’s the lowest amount of points a Big South opponent has scored against Radford and the lowest by any Division I opponent the Highlanders have faced all season.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

Radford won the war on the glass with 45 rebounds, compared to CSU’s 24. Holland led the Highlanders with 10 rebounds, while Jones was right behind him with nine. Devine Eke had seven, while Hicks corralled six. Along with Jones’ near double-double, he led all players with six assists and scored his 1,500th career point with his first field goal of the game. Holland was two points shy of recording a double-double after finishing with eight points and 10 rebounds. The Highlanders tallied 17 of their 62 points on second chance opportunities. Fleming led all players with 23 points and had the game’s lone double-double adding in 12 rebounds. Ty Jones and Buskey chipped in 15 and 10 points, respectively.

TWEET OF THE GAME

7:40 | 2H Radford 50, Charleston So. 45 Okay Carlik! We see you out here making plays! Highlanders still on ??#RiseAndDefend x #BigSouthMBB pic.twitter.com/4P3XXImLef

- Radford Men’s Basketball (@RadfordMBB) March 6, 2020

QUOTABLE “I’m so happy for our guys right now,” Mike Jones said. “You know, to come out and put that kind of defensive effort together in the second half is really special. We can be playing the greatest defense and our guys can be mad because their shots are off. That’s what happened in the first half. Once they were able to get past that and say, ‘you know what, we have to keep defending’ that’s when stuff took care of itself.”

UP NEXT Radford will face No. 5 Hampton on Friday in the Hercules Tires Big South Championship semifinals at 8 p.m. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.

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.