Charleston Southern's Mathiang Muo had 19 points and led five Buccaneers in double figures as CSU pulled away from Winthrop University in the second half on Wednesday evening in recording the 75-63 victory.
The win gives the Bucs a 2-0 start in Big South play and moves CSU to 7-6 on the year.
It was a balanced effort top-to-bottom for the Bucs as Muo led an attack that knocked down 10 three-pointers.
The Bucs put together a 15-4 run in the first half and a 17-4 run in the second half to grab a win in their Big South home opener.
"Congratulations to our guys who withstood a strong effort from Winthrop," CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said following the game. "My concern is this team is relying on runs. We have great spurt ability, but we can't always rely on that and we can never let up. We have to defend on a consistent basis."
Sophomore guard Saah Nimley had 10 assists and kept the Bucs' on the attack throughout.
Most importantly, Nimley played almost error free with his third double-digit game in the last five and turned the ball over only twice.
"We're tough to guard and have a lot of guys who can shoot and score," Radebaugh added. "We talked about not turning the ball over and tonight we executed. Eighteen assists and only four turnovers, I'll take that every night, obviously. It means our scorers are getting a lot of opportunities."
A 12-2 run at the end of the first half sparked by a long three-pointer by Arlon Harper gave the Buccaneers (7-6, 2-0 BSC) an eight point halftime lead. Winthrop (6-8, 0-2 BSC) rallied back to tie the game with 14:13 to play, but a three-point barrage capped by a pair of treys by Paul Gombwer sealed the Buccaneers second Big South win of the season.
Gombwer finished with 13 points and five rebounds in the game, hitting three of his four attempts from behind the arc, while Harper finished with 12 points and two steals in the game. Cedrick Bowen (11) and Jeremy Sexton (10) were also in double-digits for CSU, while Saah Nimley narrowly missed out on the double-double with six points and 10 assists in 38 minutes' action.
Gideon Gamble led the way for Winthrop with 10 first half points on his way to a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds in the game, while Larry Brown added 12 points and seven boards of his own, making all five shot attempts from the floor. James Bourne was also in double-digits for the Eagles with 11 points in the loss.
Muo opened the scoring with a trey from the left corner on the opening possession to begin a fast-paced first 20 minutes in the contest. Bourne answered on the other end with a rebound and put-back for the Eagles and Gamble followed with a jumper to give Winthrop their first lead of the game with 18:32 to play.
Allie Fullah followed with a pair of free throws to swing the lead back to CSU as the teams battled through six ties and 12 lead changes in the first half. Five times the lead changed hands from the free throw line as both teams struggled to build more than a two point lead through the first nine minutes of the game.
Reggie King connected on a three-pointer to give Winthrop the 11-9 edge with 11:47 on the clock. Following a pair of free throws by Gombwer to tie the game for the third time, Gamble connected on his first three-pointer of the half to put the Eagles up 14-11 with 10:01 left in the half.
CSU rallied to take the 17-16 lead following a pair of free throws by Nimley before Gamble connected from behind the arc for the second time in the game, sparking a 5-0 run as Winthrop took their largest lead of the of the first half. Andre Smith followed the trey with a pair of free throws to put the Eagles up 21-17 with 6:56 to play.
Muo connected on his second three-pointer of the half, hitting this one from the left corner to cut into the lead and tied the game with the old-fashioned three-point play to knot the score up at 23-all with 5:02 on the clock.
Following a layup by Bourne, Harper connected on a three-pointer from the left wing, sparking a 12-2 run to close out the first half. Bowen recorded a pair of breakaway dunks during the run, while Gombwer connected on a three-pointer from the left wing as CSU entered the break with the 35-27 lead.
Gamble continued to have the hot hand at the beginning of the second half, connecting on a three-pointer on Winthrop's opening possession as the Eagles rallied back from their eight point deficit to even the score at 43-all with 14:13 to play in the second half. Brown had seven points during the 16-8 stretch, while Sexton scored seven of the Buccaneers first eight points in the period.
Brown drove in for the layup on the fast break at the 13:32 mark to give Winthrop their first lead of the second half, but Sexton began a CSU three-point barrage, connecting on his second attempt from distance to put the Buccaneers back ahead on the following possession.
Sexton's trey sparked a stretch of five three-pointers by four different players with Gombwer hitting from distance twice, with hit second one ending a 17-7 run to push the Buccaneers lead into double-digits at 60-49 with 8:46 to play.
A three-pointer by Derrick Henry quelled the CSU attack on the following possession to narrow the lead to eight, but layups by Bowen, Muo and Fullah gave CSU their largest lead of the game with 5:11 to play as the Buccaneers went up 68-55.
Winthrop threatened to bring the game back within single digits in the final two minutes, cutting the lead down to 10 at 72-62 following a three-pointer by Andre Smith with 1:56 on the clock.
Muo and Harper closed out the game from the free throw line as CSU held Winthrop to a lone free throw over the final 1:56 as the Buccaneers finished the 75-63 victory inside the Buc Dome.
Charleston Southern held the 34-28 rebounding edge in the game and made 46.3 percent (25-of-54) of their shot attempts from the floor, including 59.1 percent (13-of-22) in pulling away in the second half.
Nimley recorded double-digit assists in back-to-back games for the first time this season and for the third time overall with his 10 helpers in the contest. Nimley previously broke the 10-assist mark against The Citadel (12) and Radford (11).
CSU's 10 three-pointer in the game was the third game in a row the Buccaneers had breached double-digit makes from behind the arc and sixth time this season. Charleston Southern entered the game tied for third overall in the NCAA Division I rankings averaging 9.5 three-pointers per game.
Charleston Southern returns to the road on Saturday, January 12th, as the Buccaneers travel to Farmville, Va. to take on the Lancers of Longwood University. Tipoff for the Bucs and the Lancers is set for 2 p.m. Winthrop remains on the road as the Eagles travel to Lexington, Va. to take on VMI on Saturday afternoon, with tipoff also at 2 p.m.