RADFORD, Va. – The Radford women’s basketball program knocked off Campbell in a comeback victory 54-53 on Wednesday night. Despite trailing by as much as 11 points in the third quarter, the Highlanders showed no fear in clawing all the way back to set up Carmen Williams’ game-winning shot with five seconds to go.
Coming into Wednesday’s meeting, the Highlanders knew they faced a tall task in attempting to break through one of the nation’s top defenses. The Camels on average hold opponents to just 50 points per game with a slow but decisive offense which made every shot count.
Early on, that Camels’ offense ran the shot clock to its last breath constantly and benefited by shooting 40% overall with a trio of three-pointers in the first quarter. Campbell would surmount a 30-23 lead at the halftime break, never quite pulling away. Ashlyn Traylor and Vanessa Blake played a large part in that, combining for 17 of the team’s 23 points.
Entering the second half, a new energy entered the building. Rachel LaLonde immediately set the tone with back-to-back three-pointers after being held scoreless in the first half. Making it just a one-point game, Campbell responded with their largest run of the night outpacing Radford 11-1 over a four minute stretch.
Leading 43-32 and with their backs to the wall, that could’ve been all she wrote for the Highlanders. The Camels offense would continue to bleed the shot clock dry on every possession and owned the offensive boards which made every single possession count for Radford moving forward.
Five straight points by Traylor made sure that Radford got that comeback started early to make it just a 43-37 deficit headed into the fourth quarter. After a scoreless first two minutes in the fourth, Radford broke the ice thanks to a sweet pass by Traylor to Jackie Christ that made it 43-39. A massive three-pointer by the heating up Carmen Williams and a quick layup by Blake would give Radford a 44-43 lead. The big run marked the team’s first lead since the three-minute mark in the first quarter.
While Campbell would briefly reclaim the lead to snap the hot pace, it did nothing to erase the 12-0 run overall going back to the third quarter. LaLonde would drop consecutive 10-foot jumpers for the Highlanders just outside the paint to keep the offense pacing ahead of the Camels. After a backwards, under the basket layup by Olivia Wagner Radford suddenly led 50-46 with three minutes to go.
The Camels didn’t back down and used a 7-0 run and bled two more minutes off the clock. Wagner came up big again, however, with a huge layup that made it a 53-52 Campbell lead with under a minute to go. Radford got the stop with 30 seconds to go, but a costly turnover meant the Highlanders would have to send Campbell to the free throw line trailing still by just a point.
Behind a raucous home crowd that was huge in supporting Radford throughout the second half, Campbell missed both free throws. With just 20 seconds to go, that set up Radford for the final shot. After Traylor made a drive to the basket drawing multiple defenders, she offloaded it to Williams who had the open look. Williams pulled up with a floater and did not miss.
With the slim 54-53 lead and five seconds to go, the Radford defense created one more stop to hand the Camels just their second Big South loss of the season. The team shot an incredible 8-12 (66%) from the field in the fourth quarter, only needed a lone three-pointer and didn’t even need any shots at the free throw line to seal the comeback.
LALONDE’S BIG SECOND HALF
After being held scoreless in the first half, LaLonde came out firing to just miss a double-double. Her pair of three-pointers to open the third quarter went a long way and the senior leader eventually finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and a trio of steals. All nine of her rebounds came on the defensive end as she battled a pesky Camel crew that out-rebounded Radford by eight on the night.
BLAKE’S SECOND CHANCES
Not to be lost in the impressive win, Blake also played a huge role in the comeback. The sophomore pulled down a whopping six offensive rebounds and finished with 13 points. Blake was calm, cool and collected easily sinking seven of nine free throws too. With a block, two steals and two assists the Summerville, S.C. native stepped up big against a large opponent tonight.
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT
While Campbell came into tonight with its defense being the storyline, it was Radford who would finish the night strong pushing right up to their season averages. Radford would end up shooting 38% overall and from three-point range while holding Campbell to 36% overall and just 24% from three-point range. Campbell was also only able to secure seven points off Radford turnovers while Radford’s defense forced 15 turnovers with 11 steals and scored 15 points off those turnovers by Campbell.
It’s another big task for Radford this weekend as they will be back on the road facing a hot-shooting High Point team who has scored 75+ points in their last two games. The Panthers and Highlanders will tip-off at 2 p.m. this Saturday with action being streamed live on ESPN+.
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