CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern overcame a sluggish start and held Campbell to 33 percent shooting in the second half to notch a 72-69 win at the Buc Dome on Wednesday.
CSU (9-17, 5-10 Big South) recovered after falling behind 13-0 in the opening 3:27. The Bucs trimmed their deficit to five points at halftime, surged ahead early in the second half and took the lead for good on Javis Howard's jump hook with 9:28 remaining. The advantage eventually ballooned to eight before Campbell (13-14, 6-9 Big South) made a late charge. Andrew Eudy missed two good looks at game-tying three-pointers in the waning seconds, though, allowing CSU to prevail.
Freshman Christian Keeling tallied 17 of his 22 points in the second half to pace five players in double figures scoring for CSU. Howard gave the Bucs some interior punch following intermission en route to recording 13 points and five rebounds. Armel Potter's dunk energized CSU early in the second stanza and was the highlight of an 11-point, five-assist effort. Cortez Mitchell and Raemond Robinson each chipped in 11 as well.
Chris Clemons, the Big South's leading scorer, scored a game-high 30 points to lead the Fighting Camels. He was mostly bottled up in the second half, however, as CSU limited him to nine points on 2-for-9 shooting. Shane Whitfield posted 11 points and freshman Cory Gensler added 10.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh was pleased his team found a way to win without its best performance.
"We were able to gut it out at the end," Radebaugh said. "We made some plays and hit some free throws. You see the potential of this team if we could ever put it all together. I credit our guys for fighting and finding a way tonight."
"We went small, very small," Radebaugh said of the lineup that propelled CSU in the second half. "It's probably the smallest team I've ever put on the floor as the coach here and it just tells you it's not about size defensively, it's about positioning. They shot 33 percent in the second half and the guys in there did a whale of a job."
Clemons erupted for 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the first half and buried his fourth three early in the second half to put Campbell up 40-35. CSU played its best basketball of the night over the ensuing minutes, ripping off a 14-2 run to forge a 49-42 lead. Keeling's steal and feed to Potter for a highlight reel double-bump jam jolted the Bucs. Mitchell drilled a trey moments later to give CSU its first lead. Robinson sailed through a three of his own, and Keeling scored on a drive to polish off the run.
Campbell responded by tying the contest four times over the next several minutes, with the last coming on Marcus Burk's trey at the 10:21 mark. Howard's hook shot vaulted CSU in front, and he would score again to give CSU a 62-59 advantage. Mitchell knocked down a pull-up jumper and Potter hit a layup off a big hustle play by Howard to up the cushion to seven. Robinson added two free throws to send the lead to 68-60 with 4:58 left before Campbell made it interesting late.
CSU's defense picked up considerably in the second half, as evidenced by the 33 percent shooting clip. Clemons made two threes and Eudy nailed one during the 13-0 start. Campbell still led 22-11 with 11:15 remaining before CSU began to pack away at the deficit. Potter and Robinson drained triples later in the stanza to make the score 30-27.
"We put our shooting lineup in and we were able to get them out of the zone and get them into man-to-man," Radebaugh said of the rally. "I thought that was a big advantage for us. We're difficult to guard, particularly when we're small."
"We've just gotta continue to work to improve every day," Radebaugh continued. "Saturday is another opportunity to build toward the tournament and we'll work hard in preparation these next two days."
CSU hosts High Point in its regular season home finale on Saturday. Senior Day festivities will be held pregame, as the program honors Zach Durkee, Ugo Mmonu, Robinson and Patrick Wallace. Tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m.