Friday, March 9, 2012

Radford survives, Liberty rolls in Big South tourney

We often wonder which Radford team will show up from game to game.

In the Higlanders' Big South Tournament quarterfinal, it felt that way minute to minute.

The Highlanders capsulized their up-and-down season in one game Friday. Fortunately, it ended on an uptick as freshman Ayana Avery's 3-pointer with 2:01 to play snapped a 54-54 tie and helped No. 6 Radford hold off No. 3 Winthrop 64-54 at High Point.

Radford had control much of the way and led by 16 points with just over 13 minutes remaining before a furious Winthrop rally made things extremely interesting  Da'Naria Erwin Spencer led the Highlanders with 21 points and Avery added 13. Big South Player of the Year Dequesha McClanahan led all scorers with 26 points but needed 27 shots (10-of-27) to get them.

The Highlanders will face second-seeded host High Point in Saturday's semifinals at 3:30 p.m. In the other semifinal, No. 1 Liberty will take on No. 5 Charleston Southern at 1:30 p.m. Both games figure to be competitive. High Point and Radford split their two regular-season meetings, with the Highlanders taking the one at High Point. And while Liberty won both meetings with Charleston Southern, the Lady Flames had to rally from nine points down to win the first and needed two overtimes to take the second.

Liberty advanced to its 16th straight Big South semifinal by dominating No. 8 UNC Asheville 71-50. The Lady Flames bolted out to leads of 19-2 and 26-7, creating the type of game in which coach Carey Green could spread around the minutes. Danika Dale played a team-high 28 minutes; no other Liberty player logged more than 21. Avery Warley made the most of her time, finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

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