RADFORD, Va. – Christian Keeling hit two free throws with 18 seconds left to force overtime and then scored nine of Charleston Southern's ten points in the extra session to power the Bucs over first-place Radford, 84-81, Saturday at the Dedmon Center.
CSU (8-13, 3-7 Big South) fell behind by ten points in the first half, rallied to tie the game at halftime, led by eight points in the second half and lost a five-point lead late in regulation before recovering to persevere and hand Radford (14-9, 7-3 Big South) its first home loss. Keeling connected on the last two of his 17 free throws to put the Bucs ahead for good, 83-81, with 14 seconds remaining. The Highlanders' Ed Polite Jr. missed a potential game-winning three-pointer on the ensuing possession and Cortez Mitchell grabbed the rebound and made one free throw to salt away the victory.
While Keeling's 31-point effort stole the spotlight, CSU received contributions all around to knock Radford out of sole possession of first place in the Big South. Mitchell tallied 12 of his 15 points after halftime to key the Bucs' second half surge. Sean Price delivered a huge spark off the bench, recording career highs of 13 points, five rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes. Travis McConico chipped in 11 points and three timely threes, and Javis Howard scored six of his eight points late in regulation to help CSU keep Radford at bay.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh was proud of his young team's effort and hopes it can jolt the Bucs as they enter the month of February.
"We played our worst game of the year at home on Wednesday night and these guys came back and responded," Radebaugh said. "This is an amazing group and I feel this is eventually gonna be a really special group. It was a great team win and I'm really proud of our guys."
How It Happened
- CSU led 72-67 at the 1:35 mark of the second half before Radford rattled off a 7-0 spurt in just 54 seconds to move in front. Carlik Jones hit two free throws and then Randy Phillips secured a steal as the Bucs tried to advance against full-court pressure. Following two misses by Phillips, Donald Hicks grabbed an offensive rebound and nailed a three from the left wing to tie the game at 72 apiece with 1:22 left. CSU committed another turnover on its following trip, and Polite buried a step back jumper to give Radford a 74-72 edge at the 41-second mark.
- Keeling was fouled by Jones on a drive to the basket on CSU's final possession of regulation, and hit nothing but net on two pressure free throws to tie the score at 74. Jones, who hit a buzzer-beater Wednesday to give Radford an overtime win at High Point, missed a long two-point shot at the buzzer to bring about overtime.
- Keeling drilled a three for the first points of overtime and then scored twice after Radford re-took the lead. The Highlanders led 78-77 and 80-79 and eventually forced the contest's ninth and final tie on Devonte Holland's free throw with 39 seconds remaining. Keeling was again fouled on a drive and swished two more at the charity stripe to provide the difference.
- Radford broke the 35-35 halftime tie to take a 47-42 lead early in the second half. CSU controlled much of the stanza from there, eventually forging its biggest advantage, 64-56, on McConico's trey at the 8:29 mark. Mitchell gave Radford trouble with dribble penetration throughout the period to help CSU take control.
- Howard made two jumpers and added a clutch tip-in over the next several minutes to help CSU stay in front. The senior's layup, off a feed from Price, capped that juncture and gave the Bucs a 72-67 lead with 1:51 remaining.
- In the first half, Radford jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Mitchell recorded a three-point play and Keeling knocked down a triple to help settle CSU.
- Price gave CSU a big lift by draining his first three threes, the last of which pulled the Bucs within 25-19 at the 8:27 mark. Radford took its biggest lead, 31-21, on Caleb Tanner's triple with 4:48 left. CSU responded with a 12-0 run to take its first lead. McConico paced the Bucs with two threes and eight total points over that time.
Inside the Numbers
- Both of Keeling's 30-point games have come against Radford. Keeling poured in a career-high 33 at the Buc Dome last January to lead CSU over Radford.
- Keeling's 17 made free throws were the most by a CSU player since Saah Nimley hit 15 in a win at Radford on Feb. 6, 2015.
- Price was 1-for-10 from downtown over his first ten collegiate appearances but went 3-for-6 in the win. He had logged double-figure minutes in just one of CSU's prior 15 games.
- CSU turned 15 Radford turnovers into 29 points and enjoyed an eight-point margin in points off turnovers. The performance marked the 13th time this season CSU has forced at least 15 turnovers. The Bucs entered play ranked 19th nationally in forced turnovers.
- Hicks paced Radford with a season-high 19 points on the strength of 5-for-7 three-point shooting.
- CSU held Jones, the six-time Big South Freshman of the Week, to 3-of-12 shooting. Jones did go 11-for-11 at the free throw line en route to 17 points.
CSU returns to the Buc Dome Thursday against High Point. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.