GREENVILLE, N.C. – A first half run by East Carolina erased a nine-point Highlander lead and the Radford men’s basketball team was unable to come back falling 63-50 on Saturday afternoon in Williams Arena.
Radford won the opening tip and Quinton Morton-Robertson nailed his first 3-pointer of the game. That hot shooting would carry throughout the first 10 minutes of the half as the Highlanders were 8-of-15 from the floor and had an 18-10 lead. Xavier Lipscomb converted the old fashioned three-point play and Radford was ahead by nine points, 19-10.
That’s when East Carolina (3-0) began its run. Ludgy Debaut hit a jump shot with eight minutes left in the first half of play. That sparked a 10-0 run and gave ECU a 20-19 lead but Shaquan Jules threw down a powerful dunk to give Radford back the lead with 4:11 to play.
After the dunk, the Pirates scored nine in-a-row and pushed their lead to 29-21 with a 19-2 run over 8:20. The Highlanders scored six of the final eight points of the first half and cut the deficit to four, 31-27.
Radford went 1-for-11 from the field in the first part of the second half, which led to ECU growing its lead to 14 points, 44-30. Radford’s second field goal came at the 10:35 mark and it was a thunderous dunk by Keishon Porter. That sparked a spurt for Radford that cut the lead to single digits, 44-35.
Jayden Gardner scored the next five points and pushed the ECU lead back to 14. Radford cut the lead to single digits at the 5:55 mark when Morton-Robertson knocked down his third 3-pointer and made it a 51-43 game.
Unfortunately for the Highlanders that was the last field goal they made for the remainder of the game. After 4:07 without a made basket, Fah’Mir Ali hit a free throw but East Carolina nullified it with a free throw at the other end and went back ahead by 15 – its largest lead of the game.
Radford hit six free throws in the final 1:30 of the game and shot a season-best 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from the charity stripe.
Stat of the Game
Radford outscored East Carolina, 26-22 inside the paint, but the Pirates scored 17 points off Radford’s 14 turnovers.
Inside the Box Score
The Highlanders had no players score in double-figures but had three players with nine points in Morton-Robertson, Ali and Jules. The nine points was a career-high for Jules. Morton-Robertson led the way on the glass with a career-high five rebounds. Radford shot 37.5 percent from the floor and shot less than 20 percent from beyond the arc. Gardner led all players with 20 points and eight rebounds.
“We didn’t turn the ball over for the first eight minutes and we had a lead, and that’s why we had the lead,” Mike Jones said. “That’s the challenge, maintaining a level of intensity for a full 40 minutes against a good team. It’s hard to continue to play defense as good after missed shots on the offensive side of the ball. We had good looks that didn’t fall, and those shots will fall, but it’s just a matter of when.”
Radford is scheduled to have its home opener on Dec. 14th against Longwood. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m.