Charleston Southern capped off a stretch of four games ina week with an emphatic 86-47 win over Presbyterian at the Templeton Center onSaturday.
CSU (12-15, 6-8 BSC) was playing its third road game insix days but looked energized from the opening tipoff and dominated the gamestart to finish. Junior Will Saunders buried five three-pointers and scored 17points to pace four players in double figures scoring, while senior AlhajiFullah chipped in a career-high 14 points.
Presbyterian (6-23, 2-12 BSC) was led by 17 points fromJordan Downing, but the Big South's third-leading scorer had to work for itagainst a stingy CSU defense. The Bucs held Downing to 8-of-22 shooting andlimited PC to 39 percent shooting as a team. CSU forced 17 turnovers, leadingto a 28-10 advantage in points off turnovers.
Saunders also pulled down nine rebounds to lead aspirited rebounding effort. CSU out-rebounded PC 41-28 overall and 13-4 on theoffensive glass en route to recoding a 21-2 edge in second chance points.
The Bucs put forth one of their most though performancesof the season even with junior point guard Saah Nimley, who sat out a secondstraight game due to injury.
"I thought that was as well as we've played the lastmonth," CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said. "It's taken us a while to learnhow to play without Saah, but we're starting to get better. I was reallypleased with the way we competed defensively and on the boards, particularlybeing our fourth game of the week. We were active and did a good job makingDowning work for his points."
CSU led 39-20 at halftime and never let PC threaten inthe second half. Fullah started the Bucs' second half effort with a pair oflayups, pushing the advantage to 23. PC would cut the lead to 20 on a Downinglayup but could never draw closer. Matt Kennedy drained a three on CSU's nextpossession and the rout was on.
CSU freshman Ty'Quan Bitting was solid yet again off thebench, matching a career-high with eight points for the second straightSaturday. He had a pair of free throws and an inside scored during the Bucs'second half surge.
The second of Bitting's free throws gave CSU a 60-35 leadat the 11:48 mark. PC's Austin Anderson hit a trey on the next possession tobring the Blue Hose within 22, but CSU closed out the contest with a 26-6 run.Saunders connected on three treys during the spurt, with the last two comingback-to-back to stake the Bucs to an 84-44 lead.
"We know Will is a great shooter and it was a matter oftime until he had a night like that again," said Radebaugh of Saunders, who hasbeen struggling with shot a bit of late. "Will has really had to learn to playdefense so he's committed a lot of time and energy to that and if he cancombine that with his ability to shoot it, he's a really good basketballplayer."
Balanced scoring helped CSU throughout the first half, asno player entered double figures until nearly the halfway mark of the secondstanza.
The Bucs jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the openingminutes, with threes by Strickland and Kennedy and a Gombwer lay-in off a Bowenoffensive rebounding highlighting the stretch.
PC cut its deficit to five at 16-11 on a Jake Campbelljumper, but a Bitting dunk started the Bucs on a 13-3 run that helped thembegin to pull away. Bowen was all over the place on the offensive glass duringthe push, converting a pair of put backs and a free throw. A Harper jumper andtwo Saunders free throws advanced CSU's cushion to 29-14 with 8:01 left untilhalftime.
PC whittled the CSU lead to 29-18 before the Bucs ran offten of the final 12 points of the period to take a 19-point lead into halftime.Saunders swished home a three toward the end of the half, and Gombwer cappedthe first half scoring by grabbing an offensive rebound and dribbling out tothe corner, where he drilled a triple.
CSU returns to the Buc Dome for its senior day gameWednesday against Gardner-Webb. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m., and the Bucs willhonor their six seniors prior to the start.
"We have to get a good day of rest in and then preparefor a good Gardner-Webb team," Radebaugh said. "We played really well tonightand now the challenge for us is to start doing it consistently and try to buildsome momentum going toward the Big South Tournament."