Camels defeat Radford 66-50; headed to Big South title game Sunday

Chris Clemons
(Carlos Morales/BigSouthPhotos.com)
Chris Clemons (Carlos Morales/BigSouthPhotos.com)

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Box Score (PDF)

ROCK HILL, S.C. Chris Clemons scored 33 points and Campbell is heading to the Big South Conference Championship final for the first time since 1994 after a 66-50 win over Radford Friday at the Winthrop Coliseum.

Andrew Eudy added a career-high 14 points and Shane Whitfield 11 for the seventh-seeded Camels (17-16), who will play at top-seeded Winthrop in Sunday's 1:00 p.m. title game.  The Eagles downed fourth seed Gardner-Webb 80-77 in overtime in Friday's second semifinal.

"I'm really proud of the team, I thought they played really well," said Campbell head coach Kevin McGeehan. "Just an incredible amount of poise out there, calmness and an understanding of how we could win the game. That's not easy to do if you're not a very experienced team in a playoff atmosphere.  I'm proud of our defensive effort. We really controlled it. To win a game by 16 and go 6-for-23 from 3, that means you must have played some pretty good defense."

Playing without injured senior guard Kyre' Hamer, the Camels held sixth seed Radford (14-18) to just 30.6 percent shooting (19-62) and finished with a 42-34 edge on the glass against the top rebounding team in the league.

Ed Polite, Jr., led Radford, which eliminated third seed Liberty 56-52 on Thursday, with 14 points and 8 rebounds, but went scoreless the final 12:20.  Christian Bradford added 12 points.

One day after scoring a Big South and school record 51 points in Campbell's 81-79 upset of second-seeded UNC Asheville, Clemons became the first player in league tournament history to record back-to-back 30-plus point games.  He made 11-of-20 shots Friday, including 4-of-9 threes, and 7-of-9 from the line, while matching his career high with 9 rebounds and dealing 4 assists.

With 111 points through three games, Clemons has shattered the tournament scoring record (92), set by Winthrop's Mark Hailey in 1993.

Campbell led by as many as 10 in the first half and by 29-26 at intermission. However, Radford wrapped a 10-0 run around the break and Justin Cousin tied the score (29-29) on a triple with 19:21 to go.

Cory Gensler's jumper in the lane on the next possession started an 11-1 burst to give the Camels the lead for good.  Polite's drive trimmed the gap to 40-35 with 12:21 remaining, but Clemons set up Whitfield's wing jumper with 11:26 to play and the Highlanders never drew closer.  Gensler's trey with 10:18 left pushed the gap to 47-37 and Campbell led by double digits (and by as many as 19) the rest of the way.

Playing in their first conference semifinal since the 2007 Atlantic Sun tournament, the Camels extended their win streak to a season-best four games by committing only eight turnovers and making five more foul shots (16-of-20) than Radford (5-of-11) attempted.

Campbell hit 52 percent of its shots in the second half (12-23), 42 percent for the game (22-52), while limiting Radford to just 29.6 percent shooting in the final stanza and winning for the third time against the Highlanders this season.

The Camels improved to 5-0 all-time in Big South tournament semifinal games after advancing to the league title contest in 1987, 1989, 1992 and 1994.  Campbell was a member of the Atlantic Sun from 1994-2011.