RADFORD, Va. – The Radford men’s basketball team used stifling defense and held a Hampton team that averages 41.0 percent shooting to just 38.7 percent in a 76-65 win on Tuesday night inside the Dedmon Center.
In the first 10 minutes of the game, defense wasn’t at its best for the Highlanders (6-6, 5-1 Big South) as the Pirates jumped out to a 22-9 lead. Then the intensity on the defensive side of the ball picked up as Radford forced three of Hampton’s seven total turnovers and held them to just five points over the next five minutes.
The strong defense led to pertinent offense as Radford scored 19 points during the five-minute stretch and took a 28-27 lead with 4:43 to play in the first half. It was the Highlanders’ first lead since the early minutes of the game. Josiah Jeffers had eight of the 19 points during the 19-5 spurt.
Jeffers had 14 first half points, which set a career-high, topping his previous of 12. He ended the game with 16 points on 5-of-5 shooting with a pair of 3-pointers and four free throws.
Radford had a 36-33 lead at the break and held Hampton to 38.7 percent from the floor and 22.2 percent from beyond the arc. On the other side of the ball, the Highlanders tallied a 46.2 percent shooting performance in the first half.
At the end of the first 20 minutes, Chyree Walker was tip-toeing around double-double territory with six rebounds and four points. He finished the game with 14 rebounds and 13 points, picking up his second career double-double. 10 of his career-high 14 rebounds came on the defensive side of the ball. The 14 rebounds were the most by a Highlander since Ed Polite Jr., tallied 15 at Charleston Southern during the 2018-19 season.
Hampton (4-7, 3-3 Big South) took the lead twice in the early stages of the second half but five points by Walker and two by Jeffers put Radford up, 46-41, with just under 14 minutes in the game. Two minutes later the Pirates were back within one but another 7-0 mini run by the Highlanders gave them an eight-point edge, 56-48, with 9:32 on the clock.
The Highlanders kept the defensive intensity up, which led to better offense and eventually a 70-59 lead – Radford’s largest of the game – with 3:20 to play in regulation. Hampton got it down to a three-possession game with less than two minutes left but freshmen Fah’Mir Ali and Xavier Lipscomb knocked down some key free throws to secure the victory.
Lipscomb had 10 second half points, including a pair of 3-pointers. The freshman tallied a season-high 13 points and knocked down a season-best three 3-pointers. Ali finished with 11 points and added a game-high four assists.
Stat of the Game
Radford had five players tally double-digit points against the Pirates. The last time five players scored in double-figures against a Division I opponent was against Hampton last year on Feb. 27. All five starters scored in double-figures on Tuesday night. The last time that happened was on Jan. 18, 2014 in a 93-76 win over Longwood. It’s the second time this season that Radford had five players score in double figures with the first coming against non-Division I foe, Mars Hill.
Inside the Box Score
Radford shot 44.4 (8-of-18) percent from the 3-point line. The Big South’s most visited charity stripe team shot 75.0 percent (18-of-24) on Tuesday night. It’s the second time this season the Highlanders overcame a double-digit deficit. The first was when the Highlanders were down 14 against Longwood on Dec. 15 but won 62-53. The Highlanders had another strong advantage on the glass outrebounding Hampton, 42-28. Lewis Djonkam ended with 11 points. It is his fourth straight double-digit scoring affair.
“It’s a great win against a good and explosive offensive team,” Mike Jones said. “We held a team that traditionally scores in the high 70′s to the mid-60′s and that says something. That’s something that we hang our hat on and it’s something that we’re very proud of. Everyone gets enamored by the scoring but at the end of the day it’s about making it hard for the other team to score.”
Radford will travel to the Palmetto State for the final time this season and take on Charleston Southern on Saturday at 5 p.m., and Sunday at 4 p.m.