Hampton Roads duo drives Radford to first ever NCAA tournament win

Travis Fields Jr of Radford during the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

DAYTON, Ohio (Radford Athletics) – Junior forward Ed Polite, Jr. recorded his 27th career double-double while redshirt freshman guard Carlik Jones recorded his first to lead the No. 16 Radford men’s basketball team to a 71-61 win over No. 16 LIU Brooklyn, the first NCAA Tournament win in program history.

The Highlanders advance to the First Round of the Big Dance where they will meet No. 1 Villanova in Pittsburgh on Thursday, March 15 at 6:50 p.m. The win also gives Radford 23 on the season, setting a new school record by surpassing the 22 wins of 1990-91, 2013-14 and 2014-15.

LIU Brooklyn struggled to find its rhythm on offense going up against one of the nation’s top defenses in Radford. Of their first 19 shots, 12 of them were from three-point range, connecting on only two of them. The Blackbirds changed their strategy from there, driving into the paint on nearly every possession for the rest of the half.

Head coach Mike Jones speaks with Donald Hicks during the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

It was the Travis Fields, Jr., show in the second half as the sophomore guard from Portsmouth (Norcom High School) scored 10 of his 13 points after halftime. With 16:35 left to go, back-to-back 3-pointers gave the Blackbirds a 38-35 lead, their first advantage since they led 3-2 at the 19:17 mark in the first half.

Luckily for the Highlanders, Fields, Jr. was there to punctuate a 9-0 run with two silky smooth jump shots that regained the lead at 44-38.

Chesapeake native (Oscar Smith High School) Donald Hicks added 11 points in the victory. Darius Bolstad, a Landstown High School alumnus, scored two points in two minutes of action.