ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Tenth-seeded Longwood pulled off a significant upset in the play-in round of the Big South Conference tournament Tuesday night, defeating seventh-seeded High Point on the road. For much of Thursday afternoon’s quarterfinal matchup with Radford, it appeared as though Lancer fans may see another.
Radford guard Donald Hicks had other ideas, though.
Hicks caught a spray pass and splashed a three-pointer with 34 seconds to play, guiding the Highlanders to a 59-53, quarterfinal victory over the Lancers in quarterfinal action at Kimmel Arena.
“We as coaches knew that Longwood was not going to go quietly into the night,” said Radford coach Mike Jones. “I was really proud of the toughness, the focus and the concentration that we had. Down the stretch, we got behind, and we were able to dig out a really tough and gritty win.”
B.K. Ashe started the contest on fire for the Lancers, scoring 11 of Longwood’s first 15 points. The redshirt senior was called for a charge at the 10:31 mark of the opening stanza, however, sending him to the bench with a second foul. Ashe did not return in the half. Longwood (7-26) hung in with the Highlanders during the half, despite foul concerns. Radford (20-12) enjoyed an 8-2 advantage on the offensive boards in the period, riding that and a solid performance at the line to a 28-24 margin at the interval. The Highlanders knocked down 8-of-11 first-half free throws, while the Lancers did not have an attempt from the stripe.
“[The offensive rebounding advantage was] huge,” said Jones. “The two games that we beat them during the regular season, offensive rebounding was the number one factor. We knew coming in that was one of the things that we do. We hang our hat on that, and we emphasized it coming into the game. Those guys did a great job of getting in there and getting those second opportunities.”
Longwood drew level at 32 at the 15:45 mark of the second half, setting the tone for what would prove to be a back-and-forth closing half. Radford regained the advantage, only for Longwood to wrest back control on a Charles Glover trey at the 11:28 mark. A forceful, one-handed JaShaun Smith dunk gave the Lancers their largest second-half lead at 43-38 nearing the nine-minute mark. The Highlanders charged back, however, as a Carlik Jones triple capped an 8-2 burst hat returned the lead to Radford at 46-45. Longwood got back-to-back buckets from Glover and Damarion Geter, tying the game at 53 with just inside a minute to play.
Radford’s ensuing possession then set it up for “Big Shot Don”, as Jones called him after the game, to catapult the Highlanders into the semis.
Travis Fields, Jr. drove the lane, then kicked back out to the right wing for his third – and biggest – assist of the contest, finding Jones to the right of the key. Jones then set and drained the eventual game-winner.
“It was just an open look, and I knew I had to knock it down,” Hicks calmly said after the game.
Jones mentioned that Hicks had struggled in yesterday’s practice, but noted a different player today. “He came out today, and he was a different guy. He was just very aggressive and very confident,” said Jones.
Despite the result, Longwood coach Jayson Gee lauded his team’s effort. “I’m super proud of our guys. They regrouped,” said Gee. “We challenged them last Sunday that there was another season, and [reminded them] what they were capable of doing. I was really, really proud of how they regrouped and fought.”
“I thought our guys really competed. We had a game plan to win the game,” Gee added.
Hicks’ 16 led all scorers, as the sophomore guard knocked down 5-of-9 tries (5-of-6 from distance) on the day. Jones and Ed Polite Jr. tallied 13 apiece for the Highlanders.
Ashe and Glover led Longwood with 15 each. Geter added 13.
Radford advances to Friday night’s first semifinal against the winner of Thursday’s game between Gardner-Webb and Winthrop. That game is slated to begin at 6:00 (Eastern) and will air over ESPN3.
RADFORD 59, LONGWOOD 53
LONGWOOD (7-26): Smith 1-7 0-0 2, Geter 6-11 1-1 13, Walton 0-5 0-0 0, Ashe 5-11 2-2 15, Glover 6-8 0-0 15, Ezeani 0-0 0-0 0, Chapman 0-1 0-0 0, Franklin 3-4 2-2 6, Cintron 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-48 5-5 53.
RADFORD (20-12): Polite Jr. 4-7 5-8 13, Phillips 2-5 1-2 5, Jones 3-11 6-8 13, Bradford 0-4 0-0 0, Hicks 5-9 1-2 16, Tanner 0-2 3-3 3, Fields Jr. 2-4 3-4 7, Butts IV 1-2 0-0 2, Cousin 0-2 0-0 0, Holland 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 17-48 19-27 59.
Halftime — Radford 28-24. 3-Point Goals—Longwood 6-18 (Smith 0-2, Walton 0-3, Ashe 3-6, Glover 3-5, Chapman 0-1, Franklin 0-1), Radford 6-16 (Polite Jr. 0-1, Jones 1-3, Bradford 0-3, Hicks 5-6, Tanner 0-1, Fields Jr. 0-1, Cousin 0-1). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Longwood 34 (Glover 8), Radford 30 (Polite Jr. 7). Assists —Longwood 7 (Walton 3), Radford 6 (Fields Jr. 3). Total Fouls — Longwood 17, Radford 10. Technical — None. A — NA.
Points in the Paint —Longwood 26, Radford 16. Points off Turnovers —Radford 18, Longwood 2. Second-Chance Points — Longwood 10, Radford 6. Fast Break Points — Longwood 3, Radford 0. Bench Points — Radford 12, Longwood 8.
Big South Tournament Schedule
Quarterfinals – Thursday, March 1 – ESPN3
Game 3: #2 Radford 59, #10 Longwood 53, 1:00pm
Game 4: #3 Winthrop vs. #6 Gardner-Webb, 3:00pm
Game 5: #1 UNC Asheville vs. #8/9 winner, 7:00pm
Game 6: #4 Campbell vs. #5 Liberty, 9:00pm
Semifinals – Friday, March 2 – ESPN3
Game 7: Semifinals – Radford vs. Game 4 winner, 6:00pm
Game 8: Semifinals – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 8:00pm
Championship – Sunday, March 4 – ESPN
Game 9: Championship – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 1:00pm