Game #9-369: Radford Highlanders at Campbell Fighting CamelsJanuary 23, 2013 7:00 pm
I usually look forward to going to see the Campbell Camels play at home. I am a big fan of the Gore Arena as it is probably one of my favorite arenas I have been to. I like the bowl design with just enough seats for it not to be too small, while not being cavernous. The parking is plentiful and the ticket and food prices are cheap. It also has had a way of providing a loud atmosphere no matter what the crowd size is.
That crowd can get very loud when the Camels star player Darren White starts taking over a game. White joined Campbell last year and instantly was one of the best players in the Big South. He had been improving this year as he has been relying less on his outside shot and using his superior athleticism to beat his man off the dribble and get easy looks inside. I had always been wowed whenever I had seen White play. Despite providing some of the better dunks
I had seen in person, he was turning into a great all around player.
Unfortunately for the talented senior, he suffered a torn meniscus in a triple overtime win against Gardner-Webb and the chances of him returning for the postseason tournament are slim. Losing White would mean that going to see Campbell play against Radford would be different than usual. The Camels would have to reinvent themselves as a team since much of the offense ran through White. So far, the results had been pretty good, going 3-1 without their star. In his place, sophomore point guard Trey Freeman had stepped up along with a collection of five or six tweener small forward/power forward players on the roster that all seem to have the same skill set.
This would be my first time checking out Radford on the season, but I knew they were much-improved from the teams that had only won 11 games in the previous two seasons combined. Radford has had some decent wins on the season (by Big South standards), as coach Mike Jones has a very young team littered with freshmen and sophomores. This would be a solid matchup between two Big South North Division teams jockeying for position in a wide-open divisional race.
The crowd was one of the smaller ones I had seen at Campbell in some time. They packed the house earlier in the year against Appalachian State, but I guess there was not much interest on a Wednesday night for Campbell fans to check out Radford. The Camels came out with their usual quick start that I had seen before when they play at home with a 10-2 run. With White gone, plenty of those aforementioned tweeners were doing the damage with Marvelle Harris, Reco McCarter, Darius Leonard, and Antonio Kalpic scoring buckets.
Radford came back by scoring 10 of the next 12 points of their own. Sophomore guard and possible budding star R.J. Price hit consecutive long distance threes. He was much of the offense for the Highlanders, as the play started getting stagnant for both teams. With the rather dull pace, I was paying more attention to the Camels mascot Gaylord who despite his inauspicious name is always flirtatious with the female students. All throughout the game, you can usually see Gaylord trying to win the hearts of many, only to be mostly shunned by a lot of girls that have a creeped-out look on their face.
While Gaylord was not having much success with the ladies, his team was having plenty of success against the Highlanders. All nine of the players scored in the first half for the Camels and everyone was hitting the glass as well. A spurt led by some Darian Hooker jumpers had the lead in double digits; and a Harris dunk made it 33-18 late in the half. The teams traded baskets after that, and Campbell had a big 15-point lead at the half. I was very impressed that Campbell had played well as a team with everyone contributing.
It helped matters that Radford did not much run of an offense in the first half, which led to a lot of bad looks or turnovers. They started out the second half with a much better gameplan, as they started feeding Brandon Holcomb in the paint, and he responded with back-to-back dunks. This opened things up even more for Price on the perimeter, who started draining superhoops, as that 15-point halftime lead was only four by the first media timeout.
Radford kept putting the pressure on and were starting to get to the line from all of the inside work they were putting in. The Highlanders could have raced past Campbell, as they did not miss their first field goal of the half until 10 minutes had passed, but a bunch of turnovers and also a technical foul prevented that from happening.
The Highlanders did take the lead at 44-43, but the opportunity to make the lead larger had passed as Campbell started putting the pressure back on with a 12-4 run of their own, kicked off by Freeman who responded right after Radford had taken the lead. An Andrew Ryan three made it 60-51 with just over 5:00 to go, and Radford needed to make a final stand if they wanted a chance to win.
It would be Radford's other future star player, sophomore wing Javonte Green, who would pull the Highlanders back within striking distance. He would score five quick points and another Holcomb dunk made it 65-60 with under a minute to go. Radford would end up stealing the inbounds pass and had a chance to make things real close, but Price missed badly on his three attempt. From there Campbell would pull away late from the free throw line and garner a 69-60 win.
It was interesting to see a completely different Camel team. What was once the Darren White show at times, now was a collection of exciting players that can play well as a team in stretches. Campbell is still very susceptible to allowing big runs when the shooting goes cold, something that was also prevalent when White was still around. In the end, Campbell may end up becoming a better overall team and have a better chance to win the Big South tourney now that other teams cannot key on just one player.
at CAMPBELL 69, RADFORD 60
RADFORD 9-11 (3-3) -- R. Price 7-15 3-5 22; B. Holcomb 3-4 1-4 7; K. Noreen 1-3 0-0 2; J. Green 5-14 3-4 13; R. Davis 2-9 0-0 4; B. Smith 3-6 1-1 7; J. Carethers 1-2 1-2 3; K. Brown 0-0 0-0 0; L. Dyer 1-1 0-0 2; Y. Anderson 0-2 0-0 0; A. Dickerson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 9-16 60.
CAMPBELL 10-10 (5-1) -- T. Freeman 7-16 2-2 17; A. Ryan 3-5 0-0 7; M. Harris 3-6 1-2 7; D. Hooker 6-9 3-4 15; D. Leonard 4-11 0-0 8; R. McCarter 2-4 2-2 6; A. Oliver 1-2 0-1 2; A. Kalpic 2-4 0-0 4; L. Leek 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 29-59 8-11 69.
Three-point goals: RAD 5-20 (B. Smith 0-2; J. Green 0-3; R. Price 5-11; K. Noreen 0-2; R. Davis 0-2), CAMP 3-8 (A. Ryan 1-3; T. Freeman 1-2; D. Hooker 0-1; L. Leek 1-2); Rebounds: RAD 33 (J. Green 8), CAMP 28 (M. Harris 7); Assists: RAD 17 (R. Davis 8), CAMP 18 (A. Ryan 5); Total Fouls -- RAD 14, CAMP 14; Fouled Out: RAD-None; CAMP-None.