RADFORD, Va. - .Radford guard Caleb Tanner hit two key 3-pointers during a decisive 14-2 second half stretch that helped the Highlanders to a 74-67 win over VMI Wednesday night in non-conference basketball action at Dedmon Center.
Tanner led Radford in scoring with 17 points and hit four three pointers for the game as the Highlanders snapped a four-game skid against VMI on its home court and overcame a 28-point effort by Keydet guard QJ Peterson.
After VMI guard Adrian Rich converted a 3-point play early in the second half to push VMI ahead, 40-39, the Highlanders responded with a Tanner trey that would fuel the decisive run. Tanner would later cap the 14-2 spurt with another 3-pointer the pushed Radford to its first double-digit lead of the night, 53-42, with over 10 minutes remaining in the second half.
After trailing by a dozen under the 4-minute mark in regulation, VMI cut the margin to 71-67 with 13 seconds remaining but could come no closer.
The Highlanders converted 8 of 10 free throws in the last 1:21 of regulation to hold off its former Big South foe from a comeback.
VMI forward Trey Chapman scored 13 points and grabbed 7 rebounds and Rich added 11 points for the Keydets (1-5). Guard Julian Eleby labored through 1 of 9 shooting beyond the arc and finished below double-figures scoring for the third straight game with nine points.
Highlander forward Ed Polite, Jr. produced a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and guard Donald Hicks added 11 points and a game-high five assists.
Radford shot 50% from the floor (24-48) for the game while the Keydets fired at a 50% clip in the opening half but cooled to 38.2% after halftime including 2 of 14 from 3-point range. The Highlanders edged VMI on the boards, 34-32 but held a 33-4 advantage in bench points.
The Keydets and Highlanders were tied 10-10 five minutes into the contest before Radford ripped off a 15-6 run to assume its largest lead of the half, 25-16 with 7:32 remaining. The Keydets rallied to knot the score at 33-33 on a Peterson 3-pointer at the 1:27 mark and would later trail at the break, 36-33.
Radford twice held 13-point margins late in the second half before VMI started its comeback to slice the deficit to single digits over the last 2:46 of the game.
VMI continues its string against Big South competition Saturday night against Gardner-Webb with tipoff at Cameron Hall slated for 7 p.m.
VMI Head Coach Dan Earl –
“I thought we fought all game. Unfortunately, it was another night where there seemed to be a lid on the basket especially in the second half We were 0 for 10 from 3-point range for a while, we hit two late which made it interesting, but I thought we took a step in the right direction as hard as it is to feel that as a coach- you want to win every game and compete to win. But I felt we fought all game and continued to stick to the game plan. We had some wide open looks and I thought we shared the ball.”
“We just have to stay true to what we are doing and continue to compete and continue to share the ball on offense. We had some kick outs that led to wide open shots and we’ll knock them down if we stay the course.”