Trailing 74-73 with 34 second left in regulation, Bryan Antoine came up with a huge steal that gave the Highlanders (2-3, 0-0 Big South) a chance to take the lead with a four-second difference on the shot and game clocks.
Head Coach Darris Nichols called timeout with 22.4 seconds to go, drawing up the crucial play design. It didn’t go to plan however, as Kenyon Giles found himself double teamed just across half court and had the ball stripped away.
A pair of free throws by the Dukes and a wayward heave let the nationally ranked Dukes (4-0) off the hook on their home floor.
Redshirt senior DaQuan Smith led the way with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting while Kenyon Giles (15 points) and Justin Archer (14 points, seven rebounds) made major contributions as well. Their strong play was countered by a season-high 17 turnovers which led to 21 points directly off of those turnovers for JMU.
The Highlanders carried some of their second half slump from VCU with them to start this one, falling behind 11-4 just over three minutes into the contest. A pair of jumpers from DaQuan Smith and Chandler Turner got the visitors right back in it, but nothing came easy all night.
JMU’s lead grew to 10, 35-25, and Coach Nichols was forced to call timeout and regroup his team in front of a loud AUB Center crowd. His message was heard loud and clear as the Highlanders closed out the half on a 14-0 run that silenced that crowd and gave Radford a 39-35 lead heading into halftime.
It was shot-for-shot in the early minutes of the second half as JMU knocked down a trio of three-pointers following just two in the entire previous 20 minutes. It was Smith who led each response, making plays and being aggressive on the offensive end.
A see-saw like game continued throughout the second half, giving spectators 12 lead changes and eight ties in a game that went right down to the wire. The Highlanders looked strong to the very end, even leading 73-70 with 3:35 on the clock, but that would prove to be their final lead of the night.
NOTES & STATS
- Points in the paint were 24-to-4 in favor of JMU early on, but it ended just 40-to-30 as the Highlanders got more aggressive in the post
- Radford’s bench out-scored the Dukes, 11-to-9
- TJ NeSmith had a season-high nine points and eight boards in a strong showing
With the first game of the 2023 Cancun Challenge now in the books, the Highlanders head to the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya for the rest of the tournament. First up at the neutral site will be a 12:30 p.m. tip against Morgan State on Tuesday, Nov. 21.