College basketball roundup: Radford wins NCAA Tournament opener

College basketball roundup: Radford wins NCAA Tournament opener

The Highlanders (23-12) reached the Big Dance after sweeping their way through the Big South Conference tournament and edging Liberty 55-52 in the championship game.

Unfortunately, the Blackbirds' defense is as porous as its offense is potent-they are No. 284 in the country and second-to-last in the Northeast Conference in points allowed per game.

Overcoming crippling NCAA sanctions in the midst of a rebuild wasn't easy, but Jones now has Radford accomplishing goals the school has never achieved before. Freshman guard Carlik Jones, the team's second leading scorer, is the X-factor for a team that is surging straight into the NCAA Tournament.

Jashaun Agosto #3 of the Long Island Blackbirds attempts a lay up past Christian Bradford #3 of the Radford Highlanders during the first half of the First Four game in the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 13, 2018 in Dayton, Ohio.

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.

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Carlik Jones almost had a triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as Radford beat LIU Brooklyn 71-61 in a battle of No. 16 seeds Tuesday night in a First Four matchup in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament in Dayton, Ohio.

Labeled as a "First Four" matchup, the victor of this game will be rewarded with the No. 16 seed in the East Regional bracket and meet No. 1 Villanova.

STREAKERS: Radford has won its last seven games. The Blackbirds scored 11 of their points on nine turnovers by Radford but were just 3 for 13 from beyond the 3-point line in the half. Raiquan Clark added 14 points and Julian Batts contributed 13 and eight boards in defeat for LIU Brooklyn. LIU Brooklyn averages the second most points per game in its conference and plays at the fastest pace.

A lot of LIU's success can be chalked up to senior guard Joel Hernandez, who had a monster 32-point effort against Wagner in the NEC title game.

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