LEXINGTON, Va. - The Radford Highlanders scored 42 of their 63 points in the paint, on the way to a 63-50 win over the VMI Keydets in NCAA basketball action Saturday afternoon in Lexington, Va.
Radford (4-3) never trailed in Saturday's game, but the margin was just four at halftime before the visiting Highlanders opened the second half with a 13-5 run that gave them a 12-point lead. VMI (3-4) was able to cut the margin to six with 8:23 to play, but Radford scored the next nine points and went on to the victory.
In the setback, VMI was paced by freshman Bubba Parham for the third time this season. Parham scored 14 points, while Austin Vereen chipped in 11 off the bench. Ed Polite Jr. had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Devonnte Holland also scored in double figures with 10 and added eight rebounds.
In addition to RU's work inside, the game's other story was VMI's 16 turnovers - 10 of which came in the decisive second half, and those 10 led to 18 RU points.
The first half was a close battle, with a pair of ties and Radford leading throughout, but only by as much as seven points. Polite Jr. nearly had a first half double-double - with nine points and seven rebounds - while eight different VMI players scored to keep the contest close.
The Highlanders then opened the second half with a 13-5 run and led 43-31 with 13:44 to go. The lead grew to as many as 15, after a Travis Fields Jr. three-pointer with 11:01 remaining, but VMI fired back with an 11-2 run that included a trio of triples, capped by a Vereen three with 8:23 to go. That made it a six-point game, 50-44, but Radford scored the next nine points to put the game away.
For the game, the Keydets were held to 17 of 54 from the field (31.5%) and 7 of 23 (30.4%) from long-range. VMI went 9 of 11 (81.8%) at the foul line, while Radford attempted just four free throws, making three, and was 27 of 59 overall (45.8%) and 6 of 18 (33.3%) from three-point range.
Radford, however, shot 51.9% from the field in the second half to pull away for the victory.
VMI basketball returns to action Tuesday, when the Keydets take on Davidson in a road game that tips at 7 p.m.
QUOTES - VMI Head Coach Dan Earl
"We didn't shoot the ball well. I thought we got some good looks in the first half, unfortunately, the ball was not falling. In the second half, Radford picked up their defense even more and you saw a little bit of the inexperience and us not playing enough games together, yet. We turned the ball over way too much. The turnovers were not just throwing the ball out of bounds which hurts you anyway, but it was them running through passes and taking layups out of it."
"I thought our guys continued to fight and we will do that and we'll learn from it and watch the film and get better from it."
"We got a little tentative against their pressure defense. We had some passes that we normally throw and we got a little tight and wouldn't throw them. I give Radford credit for playing tough defense and they are a veteran team."
"I thought we competed, but we weren't sharp and crisp in the offensive end."