Saah Nimley collected a career-best 26 points to go along with nine rebounds in guiding the Buccaneers (11-6, 6-0) to their seventh-consecutive victory in a 79-59 win over Presbyterian (4-16, 1-5) Wednesday night in the Templeton Center.
Charleston Southern remains the only Big South team with a perfect record in conference and sits two games ahead of UNC Asheville for first place in the South Division. The 6-0 league-record is the best start under head coach Barclay Radebaugh.
"We were fully engaged and ready to play tonight. Our guys were ready from the opening tip," said Radebaugh about the team's preparedness for the game. "They had a look about them and an excitement about them that I wanted to see. We played well".
The Bucs trailed 6-2 in the opening minutes of the game but went on to take an 8-6 lead when Paul Gombwer knocked down a jumper with 13:47 to go in the first half. Presbyterian would never lead again. CSU's largest lead in the first half was 18 which grew to as many as 23 in the second half.
"You kind of have to choose what you want to take away [when you play us]," commented Radebaugh on CSU's early run. "Teams have typically taken away driving lanes and that means we have to step up and make shots. Fortunately, tonight that's what we did."
Presbyterian was unable to slow down Charleston Southern's offense which shot 43-percent as a team and connected on a season-high 15 three-pointers. Nimley was one of four Buccaneers to finish in double-figures. After dropping a career-high 34 points on Saturday, Jeremy Sexton answered with 18 points and four three-points against Presbyterian. Sheldon Strickland poured in a season-high 15 points with three triples and Mathiang Muo narrowly missed out on a double-double with ten points and nine rebounds.
"Saah is a terrific player," said Radebaugh on Nimley's performance in the game. "He did a great job offensively tonight but more importantly, our guards did a great job on the defensive end."
Charleston Southern fell behind 6-2 in the opening minutes before answering with what would be the decisive stretch of the game. CSU reeled off an 17-2 run, holding Presbyterian scoreless for over five minutes, to build a 19-8 lead with 11:12 to play in the first half.
Sexton stayed hot following his career night against High Point on Saturday. The senior knocked down his first two three pointers of the night, capping a 10-for-11 stretch over two games, to fuel the run.
Back-to-back buckets by Paul Gombwer and Nimley's first three-pointer of the night gave the Bucs' their first double-digit lead to cap the run.
CSU would extend its lead as Strickland came in off the bench to knock down a pair of three-pointers to extend the lead to 30-16.
The defense would shut the door the rest of the first half as CSU held PC to just two field goals over the final 7:22 of the half. Sexton and Strickland combined for 20 points in the opening half as the Buccaneers were 9-of-17 from behind the arc in the second half.
Nimley would carry the Bucs over the final 20 minutes. The sophomore guard had 19 points in the second half, going 4-of-6 from three-point range, as CSU kept a large lead between itself and the Blue Hose.
The lead first reached 20 with 15:48 to play in the game as Nimley followed a dunk by Allie Fullah with four straight points, making a layup and a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to 45-25.
The lead hovered in the upper teens before Nimley went on a 6-0 run, hitting back-to-back three-pointers for Charleston Southern as the Bucs took their largest lead of the half at 25 points, going up 67-42 with 6:35 to play in the game.
Presbyterian managed to bring the game back to within 19 with 2:08 to play in the game following a Ryan McTavish jumper to put the score at 76-57.
Malcolm Bernard ended the run with a three-pointer to extend CSU's lead back to 22 at 79-57 as Charleston Southern closed out the 79-59 victory on the road.
"We have to get home. We have to get rested," commented Radebaugh following the game. "Liberty is playing really, really well. It will be a tremendous challenge for us, and it's one that our team will be ready for."
The Bucs will be in action again on Saturday night against the Liberty Flames. Liberty is 6-14 overall and 2-4 in Big South play. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 o'clock from the Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va.