CORVALLIS, Ore. - Radford (22-12) won its first postseason game in NCAA Division I program historyWednesday with a 96-92 wire-to-wire triumph over Oregon State (16-16) in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) at Gill Coliseum. Led by Ya Ya Anderson‘s 23 and 20 apiece from Javonte Green and R.J. Price, Radford advances to a quarterfinal matchup at Old Dominion on Monday.
Playing for the first time at a Pac-12 school, Radford erupted for 57 points in the first half, led by Anderson’s five three-pointers and 17 points. In all, the Highlanders buried 13 from behind the arc, including seven from Anderson and four from Price.
RU stormed to a 15-point lead on a Jalen Carthers jumper in the lane with 2:43 to play in the first half (51-36) and held a 12-point margin, 57-45, at the intermission behind 69 percent shooting from the field and nine first half three-point baskets. Carethers reached double figures as well with 10 for the game.
“What a great win for our program. We certainly came out with an aggressive mindset, competed hard and played together,” Radford head coach Mike Jones said of the program’s signature victory in just his third season. “We knew at every position they were taller than us, but I told our guys it doesn’t matter about the size of their bodies, it matters about the size of our heart and what beats inside that chest.”
The Highlanders staved off a late rally with key free throws down the stretch from Rashun Davis, who finished with 14 points in his first start of the season, and Green, who iced the game from the line pushing it to a two-possession game with 2.0 seconds remaining.
Oregon State was led by the Pac-12′s leading scorer, Roberto Nelson, who overcame a slow start to finish with a game-high 26. Hallice Cooke and Eric Moreland each added 23 for the Beavers, who end their season with the loss. It was a season that included wins over UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona State on the Ralph Miller Court floor.
“When the score got tight at the end, it was nice to see those guys get in the huddle and believe in each other to finish this game off,” Jones said of his team’s resolve in crunch time.
Throughout the second half Oregon State made runs at the Highlanders and cut the lead to as little as three on five separate occasions. Each time, however, Radford had an answer and kept the Beavers at arm’s length until the final buzzer. OSU pulled to within two, 94-92, with 10 seconds remaining.
Davis went to the line and split a pair of free throws to give RU a three-point lead, and with Radford attempting to foul at midcourt, Nelson chucked up a 45-foot shot trying to draw the foul in the act of shooting. However, no foul was committed, and Green grabbed the defensive rebound and was fouled. His made free throw sealed the game.
“I am incredibly proud to be the head coach of this group of special young men,” Jones said of his team which is now one win from tying the 1978-79 squad’s school record of 23 victories. “They represented our program and our university with great pride tonight.”