Radford's marketing team quickly went from focusing on selling out the Dedmon Center for their nationally televised game on ESPNU Thursday night to tweets and communications encouraging fans NOT to show up due to the inclement weather. It seemed like Asheville freshman Andrew Rowsey was pretty pumped about it:
Soooooo....no one is allowed to come to the game due to this weather. Either way y'all better tune in at 7 on ESPNU! Empty gym or not...— Lil' Head (@_a15r) February 13, 2014
Despite the strange environment, which was made up entirely of students, and circumstances there was a game to be played and an important one at that. Asheville was trying to keep pace with Coastal Carolina who took down VMI Wednesday night to take first place in the South Division. Radford was chasing those same Keydets in the North Division while being tied with High Point and just half a game in front of Campbell.
Asheville and Rowsey's hot start took Radford's student out of the game early as Asheville had an 8-0 run and shot out to a 15-4 lead. The Bulldogs would eventually expand their lead to 13 points when the Highlanders finally woke up.
It was free throw shooting and the three point shooting of Ya Ya Anderson that got the Highlanders back in this one. Radford was 18-for-28 from the charity stripe in the first half and Javonte Green lead the way with an 8-for-10 performance. Green finished the half with 14 points and three key steals, while Anderson added 15 points, 9 from downtown, to give Radford a 54-45 lead at the break. All in all there were 48 free throws attempted in the first half between these two teams.
Foul trouble became the immediate story in the second half as Green, Anderson, Jalen Carethers, and R.J. Price all had three fouls by the first media timeout for Radford, while D.J. Cunningham, Sam Hughes, and Giacomo Zilli had three for the Bulldogs.
Asheville would get in the bonus early at the 14:10 mark, an advantage they would need as Radford's lead had expanded to 65-53 at that point in the contest. It was an advantage that Radford's Mike Jones certainly did not want to surrender since Asheville is the Big South's best free throw shooting team at 74.1% on the year. The situation would pay immediate dividends for the Bulldogs as Corey Littlejohn spurred an 8-0 run that would get the game to 65-61 at the under 12 minute media timeout.
The advantage swung back Radford's way a bit when D.J. Cunningham picked up his fourth foul with just over ten minutes left. Cunningham isn't the Big South's most talented player but he's got a body that most Big South teams can't match up with. The 6'10 senior averages 10.3 points a night but he leads the conference in rebounds with 9.4 and blocks with 3.7 per game. Things didn't get better for UNCA when Jaron Lane twisted his ankle just about a minute later. Radford was able to get their lead up to 79-72 and force a Nick McDevitt timeout with 7:22 to play with those two on the bench.
A big moment came right at the five minute mark when Asheville's David Robertson would miss two free throws that could have cut Radford's to just two points. Instead the burden fell on Andrew Rowsey who finished the night with a career high 41 points. Despite Rowsey's impressive performance it wasn't enough as Radford grabbed the 102-92 lead in the "Snowdown".
Ya Ya Anderson and Rashun Davis both finished with 21 points, but Brandon Holcomb may have had the most impressive performance with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks.
Radford moves half a game ahead of High Point and ties VMI in the North Division. The Highlanders will host those Panthers on Saturday in a pivotal divisional match up. Asheville heads to play at Presbyterian in a game that will be aired on ESPN3.