Charleston Southern stifled Trinity Baptist College defensively and dominated on the glass and in the paint to register a 105-58 win at the Buc Dome on Tuesday night.
CSU (3-3) posted a 49-23 rebounding advantage and outscored Trinity (1-5) 46-16 in the paint en route to the victory. The starting guard trio of Saah Nimley, Arlon Harper and Matt Kennedy paced five players in double figures with 14 points apiece. The Bucs also played well defensively, forcing 19 turnovers while holding the Eagles to 36.5 percent shooting and an 8-of-27 effort from three-point range.
"I thought that we prepared well," CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said afterward. "I thought that they kept their focus up after returning from Baylor. We did some things tonight that are very tough to guard—four guards is difficult to guard against. I thought that defensively we were pretty good. On the boards, I thought we were terrific. And we moved and shared the ball. We came out and did what we needed to do in a game like this. I'm proud of our effort, especially in the first half."
The Bucs built a 55-28 halftime advantage behind 14 points and three assists from Nimley, who buried 4-of-7 attempts from three-point range. CSU entered the game leading the country with 13 made threes a night, and connected on 9-of-19 against Trinity to highlight a 51.6 overall field-goal percentage.
Trinity won 24 games and reached the NCCAA Final Four last season, and hung tough in the early going. Point guard Charles Cooks led Trinity with 20 points, and he and Tyrell Johnson enabled the Eagles to stick around as a Johnson layup whittled the CSU advantage to 30-21 at the 7:58 mark. The Bucs assumed control from there, though, ripping off a 25-7 run over the remainder of the stanza.
A 16-3 run began the decisive surge, as threes from Nimley and Saunders and a pair of inside scores from Cedrick Bowen highlighted the damage. Bowen added a dunk and Nimley swished home another triple to push the Bucs' advantage to 25, before Kennedy rounded out the first half scoring with a baseline drive for a layup.
CSU picked up the defensive pressure early in the second half to continue to build its lead, scoring 12 of the period's first 14 points while holding Trinity to only one field goal over the 5:24 stretch. Bowen scored five points and converted an old-fashioned three-point play during the juncture, and another Kennedy drive punctuated the sequence to up the Bucs' lead to 67-30 with 14:54 remaining.
CSU would enjoy a lead as large 49 in the closing minutes, as reserves Ty'Quan Bitting, Bakari Copeland, Mitchell Deter and Greg Dorleus all scored. A Deter three-pointer from the corner and a Dorleus three-point play in the lane provided two of the highlights of the final few minutes.
The Bucs will return to action Tuesday night, as they play host to Delaware in a 7:30 tipoff. Radebaugh was pleased with CSU's effort against Trinity, and knows it will need more of the same to achieve a home-and-home sweep of the Blue Hens. CSU captured a thrilling 95-93 road win over Delaware on November 10, and will be tested against a Blue Hens team that won 19 games and finished second in the Colonial Athletic Association last season.
"We've improved defensively," Radebaugh said. "I like the shifts in our zone. The offense Trinity runs, the four-around-one motion and that five-out motion is hard to guard against in a zone. I thought we did a pretty good job with it tonight. I was pleased with that. We've improved, but we still need to improve these next couple of days [in practice]. We've got a really good team coming in here, especially on offense, in Delaware. We've got a ton of respect for Delaware. It should be a good game between two really good teams."