RADFORD, Va. – Tyrell Nelson scored a game-high 19 points to lead Gardner-Webb to a 70-59 win at first-place Radford Wednesday night in a key Big South Conference matchup.
Nelson made 8-of-10 shots and pulled down five boards in just 23 minutes of action, as the Runnin' Bulldogs (8-8, 1-2 Big South) owned a 42-22 edge in the paint. Center Brandon Miller came off the bench to add 12 points inside for Gardner-Webb – helping the visitors shoot a strong 51.9 percent for the game.
Gardner-Webb used an 11-0 run midway through the first half to take a 22-12 lead, before Radford (7-8, 2-1 Big South) was able to trim the margin to 29-21 by halftime.
A cut to the basket by Nelson to start the second half pushed the lead back to double figures, but the Highlanders started to heat up from long distance to get back in the game.
Back-to-back triples for Radford cut Gardner-Webb's lead to 31-27 in the first four minutes of the half, before Nelson drove to the rack with 16:46 to convert and old-fashioned trifecta himself.
Gardner-Webb kept the pressure on, taking a 44-33 lead with 13:15 left on a fastbreak finish by David Efianayi that forced a Highlanders' timeout. The respite worked, as Radford came out with a long three from reigning Big South Player of the Week Caleb Tanner – and a wide open triple from Christian Lutete – to cut the GWU lead to 44-39 with 12:10 to play.
The Runnin' Bulldogs created some space briefly, but back-to-back treys from Tanner tied the game, 49-49, with 8:04 left in the game. The Highlanders started the half a sizzling 6-of-7 from three-point range.
Nelson responded with jumper from the free throw line for a 51-49 lead with 7:36 left and finished a nice layup in transition with 7:07 left for a 53-49 edge – starting a 9-0 run that finished with a steal and dunk by Efianayi for a 58-49 lead with 4:41 left.
Tanner drained a 27-footer under pressure with 4:15 left to cut the lead to 58-52, but Gardner-Webb made enough plays down the stretch to extend its lead back to double figures by the final horn.
Jamal Robateau finished with 14 points for Gardner-Webb, continuing his strong play against Big South competition. The junior from Sunshine Coast, Australia, was 5-of-10 from the floor and made 3-of-6 from deep. D.J. Laster came off the bench to score nine points and L'Hassane Niangane was strong in the paint defensively with three blocks. Laquincy Rideau overcame foul difficulty to finish with five assists, four rebounds and four steals in 22 minutes.
Radford shot just 39.3 percent for the game and coughed up 22 turnovers – which Gardner-Webb turned into a 27-11 advantage in transition (10-2 fast break edge for GWU).
Tanner led the way with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting and center Randy Phillips added 10 points and 12 rebounds on 12 shot attempts in the middle. Ed Polite, Jr., finished with nine points and 13 boards – but scored only two points after a strong burst in the early minutes of the game.
Gardner-Webb will return home to host Charleston Southern on Saturday afternoon. Opening tip is set for 4:30 pm in Paul Porter Arena (Big South Network).