Connect with us
Upstate Athletics

College Basketball

Upstate Falls at Home to Radford

On an almost Spring-like January afternoon in Spartanburg, the Radford Highlanders (13-9, 7-2 in the Big South – tied for 2nd with Longwood) came to the G.B. Hodge Center to take on USC Upstate (9-11, 4-5 BSC). 


These 2 teams are both very strong on the defensive side of the ball, so the expectation coming in is that it would be a low-scoring affair – an expectation that came to full fruition as a reality. 


The Spartans entered play Saturday ranked 2nd in the Big South in opponent field goal percentage, holding them to just a hair over 41%. The Spartans also have been solid defending three point shooting, limiting opponents to 46.4% prior to Saturday’s game, ranking them 3rd in the conference. In terms of turnovers, Upstate averaged nearly 15 TOs with just over 7 steals per game, ranking them 2nd and 3rd in the conference, respectively. 


Defensively, Radford was close to Upstate in field goal percentage allowed, holding their opponents to 44 percent prior to the game today, and 33.5% from beyond the arch. The Highlanders entered the game at over +2 in the turnover margin, forcing an average of 14 of them per game, including an average of over 7 steals. 


Last time out 

  •  The Spartans fell 78-66 on the road Wednesday night at Gardner-Webb. The Spartans shot just shy of 55 percent. That was still not enough to hang with the Runnin’ Bulldogs, who shot 60 percent. Gardner-Webb made their first 9 shots of the 2nd half and jumped to a 23 point lead. USC Upstate managed to put together an 11-2 run to close the deficit to 11. Justin Bailey tabbed a career-high 17 points, 15 in the 2nd half to mark his 6th game in double figures this season and third in conference play with 16 or more. The loss was their 2nd straight, as Upstate fell at UNC-Asheville 64-58 a week ago. 


  • Radford was coming off an emotional 63-59 win over Longwood at home in which they rallied from a 57-56 deficit at the under 4 timeout. They were no doubt looking to ride that momentum to at least keep pace with Longwood in the standings to stay tied for 2nd. 


The game started off with both teams smothering each other out from the perimeter and limiting one another’s looks for shots. When they did get a decent look, both squads really struggled to get anything to drop in. At the midway point of the 1st half, the score was knotted up at 10. Neither team managed to go on a big scoring run, and there were 2 significant statistical difference makers in the first half that ended up leading to a 27-17 advantage to the Highlanders at the break. 


The first difference was the free throw differential. Fouls have been a struggle for Upstate since the Campbell game (36 attempts from the charity stripe to Upstate’s 3 should put that in some perspective, and leave you in a state of extreme disbelief). Against Presbyterian a week and a half ago, there were a combined 41 personals called between both teams. Saturday, there were a combined 44 whistles. While most of the calls that went against the Spartans were of the offensive variety (picks and illegal screens), they still led to a margin of 21 to 12 in regards to FTs attempted. This would be a significant factor in the 2nd half as well. But the biggest difference in just the first half was found in Upstate’s inability to score over long stretches. 


The Spartans totaled around 13 minutes in the 1st half without a basket, spanning across 3 different points. At the 14:22 mark of the first half Khydarius Smith broke a 4 minute streak with a steal and a hook shot for 2 on the other end. Yet another 4:00 skid was snapped by a Trae Broadnax layup at the 6:17 mark. Jordyn Surratt put in a basket with 3:33 to play in the half to break a 2 minute scoreless period that would be their last points in the stanza. 


The offense found a rhythm in the 2nd half, in part due to the fact that foul stoppages were not making the flow of the game virtually non-existent. The Spartans opened on an 11-4 run to pull back within striking distance thanks to some good shooting from Mysta Goodloe, who despite an injury against Presbyterian that looked like it would mean he would miss time, ended up returning the next game against UNC-Asheville, and Ahmir Langlais. The 2 combined for 7 points in the rally, while Jordan Gainey contributed the other 4. 


Mysta Goodloe gave Upstate their first lead of the ballgame 35-34 on a three pointer with 11:45 to play in the ballgame. Radford ensured that lead did not last long, going right back down the court and setting in motion a fun back-and-forth the rest of the way to the wire. 


The Highlanders consistently managed to build a cushion on the Spartans that grew as large as 6. But, one thing that consistently has defined this Upstate team is that there is no quit in them. Like their historical namesake at the Battle of Thermopylae, against all odds, they just kept fighting until the bitter end. 


Upstate managed to claw back to tie the game twice in the final 8 minutes. The biggest moment of the game for the Spartans came with :33 ticks on the clock, when with just over 4 secs left on the shot clock, Mysta Goodloe inbounded the ball with a dime of a pass to Ahmir Langlais waiting at the rim. Langlais tipped in the shot with a guy almost on his back to tie it at 52, which prompted Radford to burn a timeout to set up what they were going to do going for the last shot. 


Josiah Jeffers took the inbound and dribbled in place for what seemed like an eternity before handing the ball off to who else b ut Bryan Antoine, who put up a trey ball from the “E” on the Upstate logo halfway between half court and the top of the 3 point arch. It went true through the hoop, and in the end proved to be the game winner. 


Upstate got the ball down the court quickly, but airballed over the rim on their attempt at a game tying buzzer beater, falling 55-52. 


Upstate was led by Mysta Goodloe with 12 points on 3 of 5 from the field, including a perfect 4 for 4 at the line with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Jordan Gainey was the only other in double figures with 10 points on 4 of 16 shooting with 3 assists and 5 steals. Justin Bailey and Ahmir Langlais logged 8 each on a combined 7 for 14 shooting with 9 combined rebounds. Jordyn Surratt tallied 7 points on 3 for 4 from the floor with 4 rebounds. 


Radford was led by Bryan Antoine with 21 points on 6-10 shooting – including 5 of 7 from beyond the arch and 4 for 4 at the stripe. Justin Archer was the only other Highlander in double digits with 11 on  3-3 from the floor as well as 5 for 9 at the free throw line. 


Overall, Dave Dickerson was proud of his team’s effort to continuously fight back and be in it down to the wire. 


“I’m proud of my team. We fought, we played hard. We played connected. We didn’t give in. This is a different team than we saw against Gardner-Webb tonight and I’m proud of them. We just needed the last possession. Radford is a good team and he’s {Coach Darris Nichols} done an unbelievable job with his program. Number 14 {Bryan Antoine} made a big time play and this is the type of game where you have to tip your hat to him.” 


Regarding the seemingly lopsided officiating, Dickerson says that ultimately the refs got it right. But, it did have an effect on the flow of the game.


“The first half kinda killed the momentum of both teams. There were so many fouls called, but they were fouls. So, the officials did a good job. They kinda took the life out of the gym a bit, but we didn’t play well in the first half. We defended hard, we played hard. We just couldn’t make a shot. In the second half, we gave ourselves a chance to win, which is all you can do sometimes.”


His thoughts on the game as a whole:


“This is typical late January basketball in any conference. You have to be able to defend and rebound and take care of the ball. We gave ourselves a chance to win, and probably should have won by 7 points. But, we had 19 turnovers in the game and 10 in the 2nd half. It is hard to win games against good teams. We just got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball. We had so many careless turnovers, but give all credit to Radford. They hung in there with the system, they hung in there with their staff, and unfortunately made a big time shot.”


Upstate, now 9-12 on the season and 4-6 in the Big South, will turn their eyes to Wednesday night, as they got on the road for a rematch with the Campbell Fighting Camels. 


Photo: Upstate Athletics

More in College Basketball