Bucs Aim to Topple Top Dog Asheville for Second TimeMarch 1, 2012
by CSU Sports Information
|Photo by Al Samuels-AlSamuels.com|
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Fresh off an 88-74 win over Liberty, Charleston Southern looks to continue to generate momentum less than 24 hours later when it meets No. 1 seed UNC Asheville Thursday in the Big South Conference Tournament semifinals. Tipoff at Kimmel Arena is scheduled for 8 p.m. A victory would give the Bucs a berth in the conference championship game for the first time since 2005, and clinch the program’s first 20-win season in 25 years. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN U, while fans can also listen in on 106.3 WJNI.
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Bucs Hoping to Take a Page Out of the History Books
• Charleston Southern defeated UNC Asheville in the semifinals en route to two of its four Big South Tournament titles. CSU entered the inaugural Big South Tournament in 1986 as the top seed, and downed the 5th seeded Bulldogs in a 65-64 overtime thriller before besting Augusta in the final. The Bucs punched their only ticket to the Big Dance with a run-through the tourney as the No. 4 seed in 1997, and pulled their biggest upset by ousting No. 1 Asheville 67-57 in the semifinals.
• Asheville has claimed the last two matchups in the Big South Tournament, including a 72-63 quarterfinal round win which ended CSU’s season a year ago. Kelvin Martin posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in that contest as he went over 1,000 points for his career. Jeremy Sexton chipped in 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting as the Bucs finished the night shooting nearly 46 percent from the floor. Turnovers were the Achilles heel for CSU in that one, as they coughed it up 23 times while Asheville coughed it up only 13 times. Matt Dickey was the focal point for Eddie Biedenbach’s Bulldogs in that one, as he went off for 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting and a perfect 8-of-8 effort from the free-throw line.
• Here’s a look at the year-by-year results in the Big South Tourney meetings:
o 1986 Semifinals: #1 Charleston Southern 65*, #4 UNC Asheville 64 (OT)
o 1997 Semifinals: #4 Charleston Southern 67*, #1 UNC Asheville 57
o 2008 Quarterfinals: #1 UNC Asheville 87, #8 Charleston Southern 63
o 2011 Quarterfinals: #3 UNC Asheville 72*, #6 Charleston Southern 63
o * = Went on to win tournament
o Series record: Asheville leads, 36-33
o Last Meeting: CSU 93, Asheville 88 (1/19/12) Asheville, N.C.
o First Meeting: Asheville 97, CSU 91 (1968-69) Asheville, N.C.
o Current Winning streak: CSU won the last meeting
o Last Asheville win: Asheville 72, CSU 63 (3/1/11) Ashe¬ville, N.C. -- Big South Tourn. 1st Round
o Last CSU win at Asheville: 93-88 (1/19/12)
o Most CSU points: 97 (L 97-116) (1970-71) Asheville, N.C.
o Most Asheville points: 116 (W 116-97) (1970-71) Asheville, N.C.
o Largest Margin of Victory (CSU): 81-56 (2/5/94) Asheville, N.C.
o Largest Margin of Victory (Asheville): 87-63 two times, most recent (3/4/08) Asheville, N.C.
o Closest CSU Win: 87-86 OT (1/6/72) Charleston, S.C.; 65- 64 OT (3/14/86) Savannah, Ga.; 75-74 (2/11/89) Charles¬ton, S.C.; 64-63 (1/5/05) Asheville, N.C.
o Closest Asheville win: 64-63 (2/3/96) Asheville, N.C.
o Overtime: 3-2, CSU
Last Meeting: CSU Freshmen Go Toe-to-Toe with Asheville Seniors
Arlon Harper pumped in a career-high 28 points as Charleston Southern upended first place UNC Asheville, 93-88, at Kimmel Arena on Jan. 19. Harper and fellow freshman guard Saah Nimley (20 points, 9 assists) paced a brilliant offensive effort which saw the Bucs shoot 59 percent (33-of-56) from the floor and 45 percent (9-of-20) from three-point range.
Kelvin Martin was tenacious again, posting his seventh double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds. The senior forward now stands as the fourth-leading rebounder in Big South history.
CSU led by as many as 14 early in the second half and held off a late UNCA charge to match its road win total from a year ago and snap the Bulldogs’ seven-game winning streak.
The Bucs entered halftime up 47-40, and drilled eight of their first nine shots of the second stanza to open up a 67-53 advantage with 15:43 remaining.
Nimley sat out the final 8:54 of the opening half after picking up two fouls, but ignited CSU out of intermission. The 5-8 Lawrenceville, Ga. native immediately set the tone by swishing threes from both wings on successive possessions, the second of which came with the hand of UNCA’s J.P. Primm in his face.
Nimley added another trey several possessions later, and then used his shifty crossover dribble to drive to the bucket for an acrobatic finish in traffic. Not to be outdone, Harper capped the rally with one of his three steals and knocked down a baseline jumper to account for the 14-point cushion.
Primm and Matt Dickey spurred the Bulldogs back into the ballgame with a 12-2 run, but the Bucs depth proved critical as Chris Grier came off the bench to swing the momentum back in their favor.
Grier created contact and hit two free throws, came off a screen to net a right wing three, and found Martin for a layup after driving the lane. Another Martin finger roll off a look from Nimley staked CSU to an 80-67 lead at the 9:50 mark.
UNCA did not go quietly, however, exhibiting the mettle of a team with four senior starters and eight upperclassmen in its rotation. Primm tallied eight of his team-high 26 consecutively to whittle the deficit to five, and the count moved to 82-80 after scores by Dickey and Jaron Lane.
CSU went cold with Nimley (four fouls) and Harper (cramping) on the bench yet never gave up the lead, although Asheville did force a brief 84-84 tie on one of Primm’s four triples.
Harper came back into the contest to re-instate the CSU lead with a pair at the charity stripe, and Martin came up with a huge block of Dickey on the next trip down the floor to give the Bucs the basketball back. Nimley took the mantle this time, forcing a foul and coolly connecting on two more from the line.
Three missed free throws afforded Dickey an opportunity to force overtime, but the senior could not convert as Nimley came out for a strong contest before Harper iced the victory with a pair at the line.
CSU recorded a 33-21 advantage on the glass, and racked up a 17-3 lead in second chance points to help build its first half lead.
Forget about the streaks
• Charleston Southern had lost its last five Big South Tournament games coming into last night’s contest against Liberty, but picked up its first win since 2006 to add another “first time in a while” achievement to a season chalk full of them. CSU is in the midst of its first winning season since 1996-97 and the triumph over Liberty matched the 1994-95 team with 19 wins – tied for the 3rd winningest season in school history. Tommy Gaither piloted 21-win seasons back-to-back in 1985-86 and 1986-87 as the Bucs captured the Big South Conference Tournament crown each year, defeating Augusta and Campbell at the Savannah Civic Center.
• A big reason the Bucs were able to halt their Big South Tournament skid was the first-half shooting of freshman point guard Saah Nimley. Nimley hit the final two shots of CSU’s 5-of-5 start, knocking down a mid-range jumper before canning a straight-on three for a 12-2 lead just 2:39 into the contest. The 5-8 Lawrenceville, Ga. native went on to open up 5-of-5 from the field himself, as he racked up 13 of his 18 points in the opening stanza to pace the Bucs to a 43-37 halftime lead. The production came as no surprise from the Big South’s second-leading freshman scoring, although it did end a prolonged cold spell. Nimley had been 24-for-102 from the field in his prior nine games, including just 15-of-60 from three-point land. The confidence was on full display, again, though, as Nimley opened up red-hot to jumpstart a CSU offense which turned in another scintillating performance by shooting 50 percent while committing just nine turnovers.
Martin Keeps Climbing the Charts
• Kelvin Martin came up one rebound shy of his fourth straight double-double and 13th of the campaign, but moved into third place on the Big South’s all-time rebounding list with his first carom of the night. Martin now has 963 boards for his career, nine more than Campbell’s Joe Spinks, who starred for the Fighting Camels from 1990-94. Earlier this year, Martin also became only the third player in Big South history to compile more than 1,000 points (1,468), 900 rebounds (963), 200 steals (222), and 100 blocks (120) for a career. Martin can also move up in the CSU record books tonight, as 9 points will give him possession of sixth place on the all-time scoring list.
A Little More on the Freshmen Backcourt
• Saah Nimley carried the scoring load in the first half last night against Liberty, while Arlon Harper took ownership of the second stanza as CSU time-and-time again (6 times, to be exact) turned back runs which cut its lead down to two. The two combined to go for 39 points on an efficient 13-of-25 shooting, including a 7-of-15 mark from downtown.
• Nimley has reached double figures in scoring 21 times this season, while Harper has done it 19 times. Furthermore, the high school friends have seemed to thrive off one another, as they have each scored in double figures on 14 separate occasions this season. CSU holds a 10-4 record in those contests. Their biggest combined output was against none other than UNC Asheville, as the two racked up 48 total points. The Bulldogs senior backcourt of Matt Dickey and J.P Primm matched them point-for-point, with Primm going for a team-high 26 markers.