Radford edges shorthanded Lancers, 79-67

Published 1:53 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Despite a career-high 20 points from Longwood University women’s basketball freshman Ciarah Bennett, four double-figure scorers and just eight available players, Radford escaped Willett Hall with a 79-67 victory over the shorthanded Lancers Saturday afternoon inside Willett Hall.

“I thought our overall effort today was excellent,” said Longwood head coach Bill Reinson.

“We had good energy and really battled. Even during the times that we had lapses, we were able to recover.

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Radford forward Lydia Rivers recorded a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Highlanders, who were playing without reigning Big South Player of the Week Janayla White. White had been averaging 14.7 points and 13.3 rebounds in the team’s previous three contests.

Bill Reinson

Bill Reinson

The win for the Highlanders (9-7, 5-2 Big South) gives them their fourth straight victory to go two games over the .500 mark, while the Lancers (5-12, 2-6 Big South) drop their third straight to drop below the .500 mark inside their home arena.

Despite having just eight of the 16 players on the roster dressed, the shorthanded Lancers were led by Bennett’s 20 points, as the freshman guard eclipsed her previous career-best by nine points.

“Ciarah had a terrific game,” Reinson said. “I think the game is finally slowing down for her and that is a great thing for our team. She can be a huge contributor for us moving forward.”

It marked the third time this season that Bennett scored in double figures, as the 5-5 guard from Camden, N.J., product finished the afternoon 7-of-14 from the floor, 6-of-7 from the foul line to go along with three rebounds and two assists.

“I just kept trying to get to the basket, trying to help my team mount a comeback and build momentum,” Bennett said.

Bennett was able to slice through the Radford throughout the game with determination to finish, as evidenced by her three three-point plays in the contest and four throughout the afternoon for the Lancers. 

In addition, Deborah Headen added 12 points, while Eboni Gilliam scored in double figures for the second straight game with her and Kyndal Skersick pouring in 10 points apiece, while Gilliam continued her dominance on the glass, bringing down eight rebounds.

“Eboni continues to play well,” Reinson said. “Her rebounding presence has helped solidify our defense.”

For Gilliam – coming off a career-high 16-point, nine rebound performance Tuesday at UNC Asheville – it marked her 11th game this season bringing down six-plus boards, as she finishes the week averaging 13.0 points per game to go along with 8.5 rebounds.

“With a few girls out of the lineup, I’m just trying to elevate my game and find different ways to contribute to the team,” Gilliam said.

Meanwhile, Headen has scored in double figures in seven of the past 10 games, as she is now one game from her 100th career game played, while Skersick added 10 points as well.

Radford’s Gaby Gilmore scored a career-high 23 points, including 11 made free throws, to lead all scorers in the game. In addition, Gilmore added seven rebounds and three assists. Senior guard Aisha Foy and Jordan Toohey also chipped in with 15 points apiece for the Highlanders, who finished 8-of-16 (.500) from beyond the arc.

Radford opened a 12-point lead midway through the second quarter, courtesy of a 16-2 run sparked by five straight points from Rivers. However, the Lancers were able to get within seven points prior to the half and opened the second half on a 7-0 run to tie the game after a pair of made free throws from Brenna Robbins.

The Highlanders responded with a 16-4 run over a four-minute span. The run was capped off with a back-to-back three-point plays from the senior Gilmore, who tallied 11 of Radford’s 16 points during the stretch.

Up next, Longwood will look to rebound, as it has three days to prepare for Tuesday’s contest at Gardner-Webb. The game in Boiling Springs, N.C., is set for a 7 p.m. opening tip.