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Radford men's basketball season ends fittingly with loss in overtime
Winthrop’s Joab Jerome caps a career day with the game-winning layup.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
CONWAY, S.C. - Working overtime. Don't even dare mention those two words to the Radford men's basketball team at the moment.
Punctuating the best game of his college career with an exclamation point, Winthrop's Joab Jerome scored on a layup with two seconds left to give the Eagles a 60-58 overtime victory over the stunned Highlanders in Tuesday afternoon's Big South Conference first-round tournament game at the HTC Center.
The OT loss was the third in five games and pulled the plug on the season for Radford (13-19).
Second-year coach Mike Jones' squad can blame its inability to stop Jerome on Winthrop's final possession for their one-and-done stay on the border of the Grand Strand.
Jerome, whose career-high 22 points and 12 rebounds kept Winthrop (14-16) in the game for the duration, sent the Highlanders packing for home with a nifty shot fake that enabled him to beat Radford freshman Brandon Holcomb for an up-and-under move for the game-deciding lay-in.
Correctly anticipating the Eagles would go to their 6-foot-5 meal ticket at the end, Radford double-teamed Jerome with forward Kyle Noreen and Holcomb.
"When I got [the ball], I was going to try to shoot it over Noreen and then the big man [Holcomb] came over, so I threw a shot fake and I seen him jump a little bit off his toes. So I stepped through and that was it,'' Jerome said.
It was a bitter ending for Radford, which led 57-52 with 3:56 left in the extra session. Jerome, who comitted a late-game turnover that cost his team dearly in a 58-57 loss at Radford on Jan. 26, figured in the Eagles' last three buckets of the game, assisting on Reggie King's layup and scoring the final two hoops from point-blank range.
"[Jerome] made a great play, made a great play,'' said Jones, referring to the game-decider. "We came over and we doubled him and stopped his momentum. We didn't sit down and we weren't quite disciplined enough at the end. And he was able to just squeeze through a little crack there and finish it.
"He did that pretty much all game. He was finding a way to just pivot around us. That's something we talk about and we preach. But we weren't able to execute it the way we needed to and it cost us on a big play.''
It was sweet revenge for Jerome, a 6-foot-5 junior forward loaded with slick footwork and savvy spin moves near the basket, as he played all but three of the 45-minutes contested.
"All I can remember was when we were at Radford, coach [Pat Kelsey] called a play and gave me the ball at the key and I turned it over,'' said Jerome. "I kept that in my head and I was just ready again to play Radford. I know I wanted this."
The Highlanders almost certainly headed home on the bus thinking about what could have been. In the first meeting, the Radford defense limited Jerome to four points.
Radford had been one of the Big South's better rebounding teams all season. In Tuesday's loss the Highlanders were beaten 38-26 on the glass, including a decisive 15-5 edge on the offensive backboards that led to a 19-4 edge in second-chance points.
"[The last play] wasn't why we lost the game,'' Jones said. "I thought on 50/50 balls the first 30 minutes of the game, offensive rebounding throughout the game, is what cost us. They got 15 [offensive rebounds] and typically we don't do that. It's usually the other way around where we're getting 15 and the other team maybe getting five or six, but this game they were able to get to us on the offensive glass and got some easy points that way."
Jones, however, has strong reason to believe that good things are down the road for his program. The Highlanders' roster, one of the nation's youngest groups, played this season with sophomores and freshmen. The only senior was Blake Smith, who failed to score in nine minutes Tuesday.
"With 10 out of 11 players being freshmen or sophomores, it would be great just to tap 'em on the shoulder with experience and all of a sudden now they would be making all these plays," Jones said. "I think our program made a big step this year."
Freshman guard Rashun Davis, who scored the first eight points of the second half to erase a 29-23 halftime deficit, paced the Highlanders with 18 points. Green, a second-team all-league choice, struggled with his shot, scoring 13 points on 3-for-13 shooting from the field.
In the end, though, Jerome was determined to keep his team's season alive. Ask Kelsey, the Eagles' first-year coach.
"Joab Jerome had the heart of a lion today,'' said Kelsey, whose club faces Charleston Southern in Thursday's quarterfinals.
"He was a monster. We just kept going to him and he kept producing."
To the very end.
Jerome 10-18 2-2 22, Bourne 1-2 1-2 3, Gamble 2-9 0-0 4, Smith 2-11 5-6 9, King 4-8 2-2 11, Diop 0-0 2-4 2, Johnson 4-8 0-0 9, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Farmer 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 23-59 12-16 60.
Green 3-13 7-10 13, Noreen 2-2 1-2 6, Holcomb 1-2 0-0 2, Davis 5-11 8-8 18, Price 1-6 0-0 2, Brown 0-2 5-6 5, Anderson 2-5 0-0 6, Dyer 1-1 0-2 2, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Carethers 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 17-46 21-28 58.
Halftime-Winthrop 29-23. End Of Regulation-Tied 52. 3-Point Goals-Winthrop 2-14 (King 1-1, Johnson 1-2, Farmer 0-1, Gamble 0-2, Jerome 0-3, Smith 0-5), Radford 3-14 (Anderson 2-4, Noreen 1-1, Green 0-2, Davis 0-2, Price 0-5). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Winthrop 38 (Jerome 12), Radford 26 (Davis, Green 5). Assists-Winthrop 4 (Jerome 3), Radford 8 (Price 4). Total Fouls-Winthrop 20, Radford 15. A-NA.
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