It seems like every week in the Big South there is an opportunity for a team to grab sole possession of the conference lead but that teams blows the opportunity. Thus was the case again Monday night in blizzard-like conditions in Radford, Virginia as the host Highlanders fell 65-59 against Coastal Carolina.
For the second year in a row Radford fans were encouraged not to come to the Dedmon Center due to winter weather and the inability to clear the parking lots for fans driving to the game. It's created two pretty subdued atmospheres for national TV games, both of which have resulted in losses for the Highlanders. Not that the Dedmon Center is known for its atmosphere to begin with.
While Badou Diagne was probably the player of the game last night with 19 points and 11 rebound for the Chants, it was Warren Gillis who was the hero. After trailing much of the game Gillis nailed a teardrop runner with 51 seconds left to give the Chants a two point lead and then nailed four free throws to solidify the win for Cliff Ellis' squad.
Coastal showed us a little something different last night as Elijah Wilson, Tristian Curtis, and Shivaughn Wiggins struggled a bit offensively combining for four points between the three of them. It was Josh Cameron and Marcus Freeman who stepped up from the bench combining for 30 points and Freeman added 16 rebounds and 5 blocks. Come to think of it, maybe he was the player of the game?
After the big road win Coastal may be in the drivers seat in the Big South. The Chants certainly have the easiest schedule remaining with a home match up against Campbell and road trips to Longwood and Presbyterian. The Lancers and the Blue Hose won't be easy outs but the rest of the Big South contenders will be busy beating themselves up while Coastal is tangling with the bottom portion of the conference.
For Mike Jones and his Highlanders it's now or never. Jones' first recruiting class was his best with Javonte Green, RJ Price, and others. The window may be closing quickly on Radford with so much talent moving on after this year. Javonte Green is the most consistent player in the Big South and was again last night posting 18 points and 8 rebounds but the problem is you never really know who else is going to step up. Radford has size in Kion Brown, Jalen Carethers, and Brandon Holcomb but it's a rather inept frontcourt offensively.
The wildcard for the Highlanders seems to be Ya Ya Anderson. When Anderson gets going Radford wins, it's as simple as that. The problem is teams seem to be keying in on that and Anderson is trending in the wrong direction failing to get to double figures in four of the last six games. Last night he was held to just 5 points despite playing 32 minutes.
Radford's road is a little more difficult as they'll travel to Asheville this weekend and still have a match up with Jerome Hill and Gardner-Webb lingering on their schedule as well.