CHARLESTON, S.C. – An Arlon Harper three-pointer forced overtime, but it was not enough for the Charleston Southern men’s basketball team to prevail as Coastal Carolina edged the Bucs, 80-77, in a thriller at the Buc Dome on Saturday.
The Chanticleers (11-4, 4-1) tallied the final six points of the extra period and held the Bucs scoreless over the last 2:55 to hand CSU (10-6, 4-2) its first home loss of the season.
Coastal’s Anthony Raffa paced all scorers with 23 points, while Harper connected on a career-high five triples en route to a team-high 22 for CSU.
Harper sent a close to capacity crowd into a frenzy when he drilled a right wing three to knot the score at 70 apiece with four seconds remaining in regulation. The freshman guard buried another trey from the corner for CSU’s first bucket of the overtime, and a Mathiang Muo drive staked the Bucs to a 77-74 advantage several possessions later.
Coastal could not convert on the following trip down the floor, and CSU had the basketball with a chance to make it a two-possession game with under two minutes remaining. Raffa thwarted those plans, however, stripping Harper and going the other way for a layup.
After a CSU miss, Coastal’s Kierre Greenwood sailed home his first and only three of the night from deep on the left wing to give the Chanticleers the lead for good. Raffa split a pair of free throws to give the Bucs a chance to force a second overtime, but Muo’s three-pointer fell short just before the buzzer.
Muo (20 points) and Harper recorded 27 of the Bucs’ 44 points in a back-and-forth second half which saw ten ties and eleven lead changes.
Coastal appeared to take control at the 5:57 mark, as a Chris Gradnigo jumper jumpstarted a 6-0 spurt which erased a one-point CSU advantage. The Chanticleers forged a 67-61 cushion when Raffa knifed through the lane for a layup with 1:53 to go, but the Bucs would not go down quietly.
Muo scored on a pair of drives and netted two free throws, and CSU was aided by a Coastal turnover and an offensive foul on Raffa when the Bucs came with full-court pressure. Muo’s final score of regulation brought the tally to 69-67, and Greenwood missed a free throw to set the stage for Harper’s heroics.
Raffa set the tone for the Chanticleers out of intermission, swishing a pair of treys from each corner on the first two possessions of the second half to complete a 12-0 run which extended back to the final 3:32 of the opening stanza.
The up-tempo pace of the second half served as a stark contrast to a methodically played first period. Both teams excelled on the defensive side of the floor, as CSU was limited to 33 percent (10-of-30) shooting, while Coastal shot at a 43.5 percent clip (10-of-23) thanks to a late charge.
CSU upped the defensive pressure to keep Coastal out of the scoring column for a 5:50 first half stretch which saw the Bucs build an 11-0 run to take a 20-11 lead on a Kelvin Martin slam dunk in transition. Another Muo layup reinstated the nine-point cushion, but Coastal ended the half with a flurry to make it a 26-25 contest at the break.
Paul Gombwer was solid for the Bucs all night long, finishing on several put backs on his way to compiling 9 points and 9 rebounds. Martin snared nine caroms as well, as CSU out-rebounded (40-38) a Coastal team which began the week with the nation’s fourth-best rebounding margin (+10.6)
CSU heads back on the road Tuesday as they travel to Boiling Springs to take on the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.