SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Charleston Southern built a 16-point lead with an 18-0 run spanning both halves, and answered several USC Upstate rallies down the stretch to prevail, 82-72, Saturday at the G.B. Hodge Center.
CSU (2-2) scored the final 15 points of the first half to take a 38-25 halftime lead, and pushed its edge to 16 on a Travis McConico three-pointer 13 seconds into the second. Upstate (1-3), behind the red-hot shooting of forward Ramel Thompkins, closed to within three on three occasions but the Bucs kept responding to hold on for the win.
Phlandrous Fleming Jr. paced four CSU double-figure scorers with a career-high 19 points. Fleming buried clutch triples at the 8:05 and 6:10 marks to up the Bucs' advantage to six each of the first two times the Spartans drew within three.
Christian Keeling, making his season debut, helped ice the game with a three-point play that provided a 72-63 lead with 1:19 left. Keeling struggled early on but still finished just shy of a double-double with 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh was pleased with the way his club executed on the road against a more veteran Upstate team that challenged Georgia on Tuesday.
"That's a team that led Georgia by five points with five minutes to go so to come here to their home floor and perform like that with four freshmen and a lot of new guys speaks to how hard they've worked," Radebaugh said. "Our assistant coaches and players have worked to learn and execute our system. Our in-game execution was flawless and it's great to get a quality win over a quality opponent."
How It Happened
- A Keeling three-point play with 4:13 remaining in the opening half tied the score at 25 and triggered CSU's 18-0 run. Five different players scored during that span, while the Bucs held Upstate scoreless for 5:09. Cortez Mitchell provided the run's highlight by banking in a 40-footer at the halftime buzzer.
- Upstate, which had attempted 103 threes through its first three games, was just 3-of-14 from beyond the arc in the first half but knocked down 11 treys after intermission. Thompkins connected on his first six threes of the second half, and finished 8-for-11 overall. Five of those triples come in just 4:59 of game time, with the last whittling the Spartans' deficit to 58-55 at the 8:05 mark.
- Following a Mike Cunningham three that made the score 65-61 with 4:09 left, the Bucs staged a key 8-2 spurt to create distance. Keeling and Mitchell started that surge with back-to-back drives.
- Upstate jumped out to a 9-1 advantage only to see CSU counter with an 18-2 run. The Spartans were held to just two points for 7:45 during that time. Back-to-back Fleming treys, a Keeling three-point play and Jamaal David's lay-in highlighted the run.
Inside the Numbers
- CSU posted a 44-29 rebounding advantage. The Bucs dominated the glass in the opening stanza, recording a 25-10 edge.
- McConico (13 points) and Mitchell (12 points) joined Fleming and Keeling in double figures. CSU shot 50 percent in the first half, and 47 percent overall.
- CSU employed the same starting lineup, one featuring three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior college transfer, for the fourth straight game. Keeling and Mitchell came off the bench in their season debuts.
- Upstate placed four players in double figures for the fourth time in as many games. CSU did limit Mike Cunningham, a preseason All-Atlantic Sun pick, to 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting.
CSU welcomes Toccoa Falls to the Buc Dome Monday at noon. A tailgate lunch will be held on the lawn in front of the fieldhouse prior to tipoff.