Radford and LIU Brooklyn met in a battle of No. 16 seeds in the First Four opener Tuesday night at UD Arena with the hope of ending losing streaks. Both programs were playing for their first NCAA Tournament win.
Radford no longer has to say it’s never won in the tournament. The Highlanders won on their third try, answering every challenge by LIU in the second half to pull away late for a 71-61 victory.
Radford (23-12) advances to play East Region No. 1 seed Villanova at 6:50 p.m. Thursday in Pittsburgh.
Radford used a 14-2 run over a four-minute span to take a lead 49-40 with 12:28 left led by Carlik Jones, Travis Fields Jr. and Donald Hicks. After LIU (18-17) cut Radford’s lead to 59-58, the Highlanders finished with a 12-3 run over the final five minutes. LIU’s last field goal came with 6:47 left.
Fields came off the bench and made three 3-pointers in the second half to tie a season high with 13 points. Ed Polite Jr. also scored 13, Jones had 12 and Hicks 11.
LIU, now 0-7 in NCAA play, was led by Jashaun Agosto with 16 points, Raiquan Clark with 14 and Julian Batts with 13.
Radford was the hot-shooting team early and built a 20-11 lead halfway through the first half. LIU scored 11 points off nine Radford turnovers and chipped away at the lead to trail 30-28 at the half on a 3-pointer by Joel Hernandez. Radford outshot LIU 52 to 44 percent in the half and 47 to 38 percent for the game.