BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell's Chris Clemons scored a career-high 37 points to lead the Fighting Camels over Charleston Southern, 92-82, in a shootout Wednesday at Gore Arena.
Clemons tallied ten points in a 3:53 span late in the first half to dig Campbell (9-6, 2-1 Big South) out of a 12-point hole and cut CSU's (4-10, 0-3 Big South) halftime lead to one. The teams then traded the advantage twice and were tied three times before the Camels controlled the final 12-plus minutes. Marcus Burk hit two free throws and drained a three-pointer for a five-point possession that put Campbell in front for good at the 12:18 mark.
Campbell shot 57 percent from the field and sunk 21-of-27 free throws after intermission to sustain one of CSU's better offensive performances of the year. The Bucs shot 57 percent overall, including 59 percent in the second stanza, but could not string together enough stops to prevail. Jamal Thomas poured in 19 points in his first career start to pace four players in double figures.
CSU will look to snap a six-game losing streak Saturday at Gardner-Webb. While he was pleased to see significant strides made offensively, CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh knows his team will need to match it with an uptick defensively going forward.
"A ton of improvement on the offensive end for us," Radebaugh said. "There was great ball movement…just a great attitude by our guys in competing and bouncing back from several very difficult losses. Our Achilles heel remains the defensive end of the floor. We just gave up way too many points and way too high a percentage in the second half."
"The reason why we haven't been successful as we want to be is on the defensive end," Radebaugh continued. "I've just gotta do a great job of trying to figure it out and trying to put our guys in better position to be successful defensively. We'll keep working."
Campbell's five-point possession proved to be the turning point of the second half. Armel Potter missed a layup on a play where he may have been fouled. Burk was fouled on a three on the ensuing trip down the floor, and connected on two free throws to send the Camels ahead. Burk missed his final free throw but then buried a corner trey following a Damontez Oliver offensive rebound, putting CSU behind, 51-47.
Two triples by Clemons – both with the shot clock dwindling – helped push Campbell's cushion to nine twice before CSU clawed back to within three on a Cortez Mitchell free throw with 6:39 remaining. Burk then rattled home another three in front of the shot clock horn and Mogga Lado maneuvered for a pair of inside scores to pad the Campbell lead to 71-61 with 5:02 left. CSU could get no closer than seven the rest of the way. Potter scored ten of his 18 points late as the Bucs kept fouling to extend the game until the final seconds.
Buoyed by the Big South's top scorer in Clemons, Campbell entered play second in the league in scoring and field goal percentage and showed why. Shane Whitfield posted 17 points, while Burk and Lado each notched a timely 11.
The insertion of Rae Robinson and Jamal Thomas into the starting lineup for the first time this season sparked CSU early. Robinson knocked down two threes and Thomas threw down a right-handed dunk to punctuate a 10-0 run and give the Bucs a 12-4 lead at the first media timeout. Thomas would later swish home another trey off a drive-and-kick from Cortez Mitchell to put CSU up 32-20 with 4:48 left in the period. Clemons' flurry to end the half closed the gap to a point at intermission.
CSU will next take on Gardner-Webb this Saturday. Tipoff at Paul Porter Arena in Boiling Springs, N.C., is set for 4:30 p.m.