Radford’s Carlik Jones, the Big South’s Freshman of the Year, drilled a 25 foot three-pointer as time expired to lift Radford to a 55-52 win in the Big South Championship game. With the win, the Highlanders advance to the program’s 3rd ever NCAA Tournament.
Radford led most of the way, but never by more than 9 points. Scottie James hit a layup with 3:37 left in the game to cut the Highlanders lead to 1, and the game seesawed back and forth the rest of the way. Scottie’s layup and free throw less than a minute later give the Flames a lead at 50-48. First-team all-conference selection Ed Polite responded with 4 straight points to put Radford up by 2. Lovell Cabbil answered with a pair of free throws to tie the game at 52 with 70 seconds left. After a Radford turnover, Cabbil pulled up for a 3 pointer with 23 seconds left. It missed, the Highlanders got the rebounded, advanced the ball into the frontcourt, and called a timeout.
With the game knotted at 52 and just 13 seconds left on the clock, Jones was able to shake free of Cabbil for a step back 3-pointer that he drilled.
James led the Flames with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. The redshirt-sophomore, apparently inspired by only making the 2nd-team all-conference, also had 13 rebounds. For the 3 game tournament, James averaged 17.3 points and 12 rebounds per game while shooting 19-of-25 (76%).
Lovell Cabbil added 15 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds. The rest of the team combined for 17 points on 5-of-22 shooting.
Liberty had 15 turnovers compared to 7 for the Highlanders as Radford outscored Liberty 18-11 in points off turnovers.
Heartbreak for the Flames, but this team will be back. Ryan Kemrite, the program’s all-time best 3-point shooter, is the only senior. For now, we will wait and see if Liberty advances to a postseason tournament like they did last year in the CIT.