For the second-straight Wednesday night road trip, the Charleston Southern Buccaneers suffered another ice-cold shooting night in road loss at Winthrop, 70-65.
The Bucs started the game 1-for-24 from three-point range before making two in the final minute to threaten the Eagles in the waning seconds, but its shooting in the game's first 39 minutes was the deciding factor in CSU's second road loss in as many games after starting Big South play 4-0 on the road.
CSU (13-9, 8-3), one of the nation's top three-point shooting teams making 9.4 per game, was 3-for-27 on the night, suffering its worst three-point effort of the year.
Charleston Southern did the small things it needed to give itself a chance to win the game. The Bucs lost despite holding a 13-6 edge on the offensive boards and forcing 19 turnovers, while turning it over in the single digits until the final minute. Even with the intangibles, the ball didn't go in.
"(Making shots) is our deal," CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said after the game. "We know, if we don't make the three, we are going to have a tough time winning. We've looked for answers and will keep looking. If we make 5-for-27, we win the game (lost by 5). We had 10 good looks tonight and missed them all."
Radebaugh was excited about the fight his team showed in the final five minute, despite a frustrating 35 minutes to open the game.
"It was a physical, tough game, and I think that works against us," Radebaugh said. "What courage our guys showed late to rally. What fight they showed. I told our guys I was proud of them in the locker room and that I was impressed with our fight. Now we have to make it carry over."
The Bucs face UNC Asheville on Saturday with first-place in the South Division on the line.
Neither team got off to a fast start offensively. Both squads made just 1-of-8 field goal attempts to open the game before the Eagles took a 5-4 lead on a Joab Jerome three and the Bucs never led again.
Winthrop never extended it's a lead to more than six despite leading for much of the half, and the Bucs not scoring back-to-back buckets in the period.
A dunk by Cedrick Bowen, who played for the first time in three weeks, gave CSU a 6-5 lead. Winthrop answered with a 9-2 run to take a 14-8 lead and kept the cold-shooting Bucs at bay.
Winthrop continued to plug away as the Bucs couldn't find the range. The Eagles took their largest lead, 49-32, with nine minutes to play before Saah Nimley made things interesting late.
Nimley put together a three-point play and then stole the inbounds and laid it in to cut a comfortable 12-point lead to 58-51 in a matter of seconds. CSU would make the final minute tough on the Eagles.
Senior Mathiang Muo buried a three from the top of the key to answer two Eagle free throw to cut the lead to 60-55 with two minutes left. Muo would get a steal on the ensuing possession
Winthrop pushed its lead back to five on a put back by Reggie King with 59 seconds to play. A charging call on Saah Nimley on the ensuing possession and a pair Winthrop free throws moved the lead to seven.
Nimley came back with five points, including the Bucs third three of night with 17 seconds left, to cut the lead back to three. A Nimley turnover and another pair of free throws from Derrick Henry ended the Bucs' late run.
Nimley led CSU with 24 points and was 8-of-10 at the line. Arlon Harper added 14 points and Muo had 13. Bowen had four in 18 minutes in his return.
Smith carried the Winthrop offense with 20 points. The Eagles shot 44 percent (20-of-45) for the game
The Bucs travel to Asheville, N.C. on Saturday for a showdown with first-place UNC Asheville. Tipoff is at 2 p.m. The game will be available on ESPN3.