Eastern Kentucky ended the game on a 10-0 run and held Charleston Southern scoreless for the final 4:57 to edge the Bucs, 70-65, Friday at the Buc Dome.
CSU (4-5) held EKU (5-6) to 38.5 percent shooting and shot over 50 percent for much of the night but came up empty in the final minutes. The Bucs committed four turnovers, missed a pair of free throws and went 0-for-3 from the floor as the Colonels rallied for victory.
DeAndre Dishman’s layup with 2:01 remaining proved to be the winning score. Cortez Mitchell had two free-throw attempts to tie or give CSU the lead with 16 seconds left but missed both. Following two Dedric Boyd free throws, Christian Keeling had a long three-pointer go in and out with 1.7 seconds left and Dishman added two more free throws to seal the win.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh lauded his team’s defensive effort while lamenting missed opportunities down the stretch.
“Our team played as hard as we’ve played all year and defensively, we were absolutely terrific,” Radebaugh said. “We held them to 38.5 percent from the floor, we did a good job on (Nick) Mayo and Boyd and we held a lead going into the last couple minutes again.”
“We’ve just gotta learn how to finish,” Radebaugh continued. “We’ve gotta learn how to win. This team very easily could be 7-2 but we’re not and you attribute that to some untimely free throw misses and not being able to score late in the game. Those things are correctable so we’ll go back and try to come up with ways to score late other than just Christian Keeling.”
How It Happened
EKU scored just 13 points over 9:17 but that was enough to prevail. The Colonels held the Bucs scoreless on their final eight possessions of the contest. Jamaal David’s free throw at the 4:57 mark accounted for CSU’s final point.
CSU trailed 43-32 late in the first half but a Keeling four-point play cut the halftime deficit to seven and the Bucs built on that momentum for much of the second half. A 12-0 run requiring just 2:47 put CSU ahead 55-48 at the 13:51 mark. Keeling tallied the first five points of the spurt and Mitchell added a run of five straight markers before Howard polished it off with a tip-in.
After Mayo buried a three to tie the score with 10:27 remaining, Keeling drew a foul and drained two free throws to vault CSU in front until the final minutes.
The Bucs jumped out to a 9-3 lead and pushed their edge to 19-11 by the 12:22 mark. Travis McConico knocked down two treys and Keeling added one during the opening push.
EKU then proceeded to outscore 32-13 over the remainder of the half prior to Keeling’s four-point play. Eleven turnovers plagued CSU, which entered intermission trailing 43-36 despite shooting 53.6 percent. The Colonels also record a 9-1 advantage at the free-throw line and a 9-2 edge in second-chance points in the opening stanza.
Inside the Numbers
Keeling posted his third straight 20+ point effort with 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He added a career-high four steals and two blocked shots.
McConico was the only other Buc in double-figures with 10 points, eight of which came in the first half.
Boyd paced EKU with 19 points but was held to 5-of-17 shooting, including a 4-of-11 mark from beyond the arc. Mayo, a two-time All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team selection, chipped in 15 points.
EKU out-rebounded CSU, 37-29, including 14-8 on the offensive glass. The Bucs entered played ranked 44th nationally with a +7.0 rebounding margin.
Despite its own turnover problems, CSU scored 17 second half points on ten EKU turnovers in the second half.
CSU takes on No. 19 Florida State in Tallahassee Monday at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU. The meeting marks the fifth straight season the two programs will meet.