First Four: Radford, St. Bonaventure Win In Raucous Tuesday

Connor Hanson
Staff Writer

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament kicked off Tuesday at UD Arena for the 18th consecutive year. Sixteen-seeds, LIU Brooklyn and Radford tipped off first, while 11-seeds, UCLA and St. Bonaventure played later that night.

Radford and St. Bonaventure started and ended the first night of the tournament in true March Madness fashion, as Radford beat LIU Brooklyn 71-61 and St. Bonaventure defeated UCLA 65-58. Both Ranford and LIU Brooklyn had the honor to start the off the NCAA Tournament in a near-packed UD Arena.

There Can Be Only One” Winner

Radford went up early and held the lead for nearly the entirety of the first half (19:17 minutes). The first half of the game was fairly paced however, as the box score read the same except for Radford shooting 52.0 percent compared to LIU’s 44.4 percent.

LIU had their chance in the second half, going on a 10-2 run to take back the lead for the first time since the start of the first half.

However, college basketball is known as a game of runs, and Radford answered with a 14-2 run of their own. Unfortunately, Radford’s leading scorer at the time, sophomore guard Donald Hicks, sat out portions of the game due to foul trouble. But each time the Blackbirds clawed back in the game, Radford went on another run.
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And with the lead in hand for most of the second half, Radford turned and focused its efforts on defensive to hold LIU to zero field goals for the last six minutes of the game.

Hicks finished as one of four Highlanders scoring in double-digits on the night, but it was LIU’s sophomore guard Jashaun Agosto who finished with a game-high 16 of LIU’s 61 points. Two of the Highlanders double-digit scoring players strung together double-doubles as, junior forward Ed Polite Jr. tied for a team-high 13 points and lead the team with 12 rebounds, while senior guard Christian Bradford finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

With the buzzer sounding, St. Bonaventure and UCLA’s game was fast-approaching, and with the task of closing out the first day of March Madness, both teams put on a show.

Bonnies Repping The A-10

UCLA opened the game as hot as could be, scoring on its first five shots, with three of them coming from beyond the three-point line. Junior guard Aaron Holiday was the main contributor to that onslaught, scoring UCLA’s first eight points off three makes.

But it was another game of runs, as St. Bonaventure rolled off an 8-0 run to tie the game at 17. A lot of the Bonnies’ success in scoring came from the turnover battle. Forcing 11 first-half turnovers, on which they scored 14 points. St. Bonaventure kept the pressure on for the rest of the half and finished the first 20 minutes with a 28-23 lead, in large part thanks to junior forward/guard Courtney Stockard, who helped pace the Bonnies throughout the whole game.
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UCLA came out the locker room and attacked St. Bonaventure right away, tying the game up four minutes into the second half. From there, the Bruins added onto their lead until 8:22 mark. That’s when St. Bonaventure went on 12-0 spirt off the backs of Stockard, senior guard Matt Mobley and junior forward LaDarien Griffin, all three of whom finished the night in double-digits.

St. Bonaventure then hit a scoring drought for the next two minutes, which is when Holiday and redshirt-sophomore guard Ali Prince rattled off a 7-0 run of their own. However, that was all that UCLA had left, as senior guard Jaylen Adams, who had an uncharacteristically quiet night (2-16 from the field, 8 points), put the Bonnies up for good with 48 seconds left.

The Bonnies’ win brought the rambunctious Dayton crowd to its feet, as they can now officially say that the road to the Final Four begins in Dayton for the 18th consecutive year.

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Photos Taken By Griffin Quinn/Staff Photographer