ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Radford (16-12, 14-5 BSC) withstood a second half surge by UNC Asheville (15-19, 9-10 BSC) on Wednesday night, en route to a 73-66 victory. A quartet of free throws from Khiana Johnson, Makaila Wilson, and Sydney Nunley came in clutch to put distance between the Highlanders and the Bulldogs in the waning moments of the contest.
Radford entered the half leading UNC Asheville by ten points, 36-26. The shots had been falling for the Highlanders who were led by Nunley’s eight points, being 4-for-4 from the field in her five minutes played. Radford as a team was shooting 41.9 percent from the floor and 88.9 percent from the charity stripe, with a pair of made three-pointers.
The Bulldogs responded in the third period outscoring the Highlanders 19-14. Johnson’s three opened up the scoring for Radford and was followed by a Nunley jumper in the paint. The Bulldogs began to trim away at the Highlander lead, getting to the free throw line on six different occasions. They capitalized on every trip, pulling within three of the Highlanders. Jumpers from Rachel LaLonde and Bryonna McClean pushed the lead back out to seven, but a response from Asheville’s Nadiria Evans with 58 seconds put it back at five points.
Back-to-back baskets by Sonora Dengokl paired with a successful trip to the free throw line by Evonna McGill, to bring The Bulldogs within one of the Highlanders to begin the fourth. Johnson’s timely pass to Jen Falconer, led to the three-point basket. UNC Asheville tied the game at 55 all, on an Evans layup at the 6:36 mark. But, the response from Radford was immediate. Johnson notched the next five points for the Highlanders, joined by McClean and a deep ball by Wilson. Radford was now looking at a comfortable eight-point lead. UNC Asheville went to the free throw line twice during a time where Radford was struggling through a scoring drought. It lasted until the 40 second mark where Johnson’s big-time free throws added a four-point cushion, at 67-63. Zip Scott raced down the other end and drained an on time three ball to get right back within striking distance, at 67-66. The Highlanders’ defense held while the offense had Wilson, Nunley, and Johnson all drain free throws to complete the 73-66 victory.
The Bulldogs were able to tie the game four times but were unable to ever take the lead. Pacing UNC Asheville was Dengokl who posted 21 points through her 35 minutes played, and adding six rebounds.
Radford had three in double digit scoring with Johnson’s 16 points. She was accompanied by Nunley’s 14 and McClean’s 11.
Johnson made the most out of her six trips to the charity stripe, making each take. She was 6-fot-6 from the line, had six rebounds, a steal, and several assists.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Highlanders shot a season-high 94.7 percent from the charity stripe, going 18-for-19 overall.
Radford returns home to face Hampton in the Dedmon Center for senior day on Saturday, Mar. 7th at 2:00 p.m. The teams will face off for the No.2 seed in the Big South Women’s Basketball Tournament.
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