Courtesy-Radford University Athletics
RADFORD, Va. – Virginia native Caleb Tanner scored a career-high 17 points, including 12 in the second half, to help Radford pull away to a 74-67 victory over VMI Wednesday night in the renewal of the teams’ Commonwealth rivalry. Tanner connected on 6 of 7 shots, including 4 of 5 from behind the arc, to surpass his previous high of 16 last season against Central Penn. The Floyd County product made all four of his attempts in the second half, including three from downtown, highlighting a 14-3 run that turned a tie game into a 53-42 Highlanders’ lead with 10:55 to play. He hit treys on back-to-back possessions to get it started and capped the spurt with another. In between, Darius Bolstad contributed five points on an old fashioned three-point play and another layup. Radford pushed its lead to a game-high 13-point advantage on two free throws by Ed Polite, Jr. with 7:21 left. VMI was able to slowly but steadily cut into the deficit, getting within six at 70-65 on a free throw by leading scorer QJ Peterson with 39 seconds on the clock. However, Christian Bradford converted three out of four free throws to seal the victory. Both teams shot well the ball well in the first half and traded runs before Radford went into the locker room with a 36-33 lead. The Highlanders used a 15-6 spurt to open up a 25-16 edge. Donald Hicks and Tanner combined for 11 of the points, while Randy Phillips and Christian Layup added layups. The Keydets, though, answered with a 17-8 run to tie the game. Peterson was responsible for 10 of the points, including a pair of 3-pointers. However, Hicks gave Radford the lead back with a 3-pointer of his own right from the left wing right before the buzzer, giving him nine points in the half. The victory ended a four-game losing streak at home to VMI and evened the all-time series between the former conference rivals at 21-21. Radford will now move on a matchup against third-ranked North Carolina on Sunday afternoon as it makes its first-ever visit to Chapel Hill.
“It’s good to start playing VMI again. It’s been a good rivalry over the years so I was glad that (VMI coach Dan) Earl agreed to play the game. We knew that they were going to be tough to guard. Peterson is an unbelievable scorer and he got hot early in the game, even though we made it tough on him. I thought our defensive effort over the course of the game was really good and we really imposed our will, particularly in the second half to get ourselves a good, gutsy win,” says Radford head coach Mike Jones.