BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb's charter bus will make the three-hour trek north to Radford, Va., this week, with the Runnin' Bulldogs set to battle first-place Radford at 7:00 pm on Wednesday.
Gardner-Webb (7-8, 0-2 Big South) has dropped two close games in a row – and three in a row overall – as it gets into the meat of the January league slate. The Runnin' Bulldogs are 0-2 in the Big South for the first time since the 2013-2014 season, but that team rebounded quickly to finish with 10 league wins – the second of four consecutive seasons with 10 or more wins against Big South foes for GWU.
Guards Laquincy Rideau (19.0 ppg), Jamaal Robateau (14.0 ppg), David Efianayi (13.0 ppg) and Liam O'Reilly (9.5 ppg) have carried the load for Gardner-Webb in its two Big South contests, with All-Big South forward Tyrell Nelson (5.0 ppg, 10.5 rpg) under the weather last week.
Robateau's marksmanship from long range has been a bright spot, with the Sunshine Coast, Australia, junior draining 8-of-14 three-pointers in the first two league games. His triple with 1.9 seconds left in regulation on Saturday at defending champion UNC Asheville forced overtime.
Forward D.J. Laster (6.0 ppg) has been effective off the bench – along with Efianayi – this season, and was particularly efficient in last week's two appearances. The Pensacola, Fla., sophomore shot 83.3 percent from the floor (5-of-6) last week and averaged 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Radford (7-7, 2-0 Big South) had perhaps the most impressive start to the conference season – taking down UNC Asheville in overtime on Thursday night and upending preseason favorite Winthrop on the road on Saturday.
Guard Caleb Tanner averaged 22.0 points in those two wins, knocking down better than 55.0 percent of his shots in the process. Tanner leads Radford overall this season with an average of 10.6 points per game.
Forward Ed Polite, Jr., has been effective as expected on both ends of the floor, putting up averages of 10.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.0 block per game in 13 starts. His production on the glass has helped Radford post strong numbers as a team (37.6 rpg) in that category.
Wednesday's game will stream live on the Big South Network (bigsouthsports.com), with Rick Watson handling the play-by-play from the Dedmond Center.