No. 24 James Madison rallies past Radford to stay unbeaten

Terrence Edwards Jr. scored 21 points to lead No. 24 James Madison to a 76-73 victory over Radford in a celebratory atmosphere Friday night in Harrisonburg, Va.

T.J. Bickerstaff ruled the paint, scoring 20 points and pulling down eight rebounds as the Dukes (4-0) rallied from a six-point deficit in the second half.

With fans toasting the Dukes’ first-ever appearance in the rankings and jazzed about the school’s undefeated football team hosting ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Saturday, the electric arena helped lift James Madison in the second half.

The Dukes trailed late but held Radford scoreless over the final 3:35. Bickerstaff gave James Madison the lead, 74-73, by hitting two free throws with 1:22 left.

After Xavier Brown’s third steal of the game, Edwards hit two free throws with 7 seconds left to put the Dukes up 76-73 before Radford’s Bryan Antoine missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

It was the Dukes’ third close call this year. They shocked then-No. 4 Michigan State in an overtime victory on the season’s opening night. Three nights later, they needed two overtimes to win at Kent State.

DaQuan Smith led Radford (2-3) with 20 points. Kenyon Giles added 15 points but missed two 3-pointers in the final 2:09.

Justin Archer had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Highlanders, who hit 50.8 percent from the floor, while the Dukes hit 43.5 percent of their shots.

James Madison sprinted to an early 11-4 lead with Edwards and Julien Wooden (15 points) draining 3-pointers.

The Dukes remained in control through most of the half, increasing their edge to 35-25 on a putback by Edwards. But they also missed their last 10 3-point tries in the half, allowing the Highlanders to stay close.

Over the final 3:15 of the period, Radford reeled off 14 straight points.

TJ NeSmith triggered the run with two buckets in the paint, followed by a 3-pointer. Another trey by Smith helped the Highlanders take a 39-35 lead at the break.

Early in the second half, Giles extended Radford’s edge to 46-40 when he hit a 3-pointer. But James Madison responded with a seven-point run, triggered by a 3-pointer by Edwards.

From there, it was a back-and-forth struggle, with neither team leading by more than four points.