Buccaneers utilize strong second half to hold off UNC Asheville

Buccaneers utilize strong second half to hold off UNC Asheville
(Source: Bilodeau, Kevin)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Christian Keeling scored 21 of his game-high 27 points in the second half as Charleston Southern withstood a challenge from host UNC Asheville in Kimmel Arena on Saturday afternoon, 85-75.

CSU (11-12, 5-5 Big South) seized control of the game with 7:59 left in the contest as Keeling went up and in for the layup off the assist from Phlandrous Fleming. The layup swung the lead back to the Bucs in the tightly contested second half as CSU was unable to build more than a two-possession lead until late.

UNC Asheville (3-22, 1-10 Big South) narrowed the gap to three at 71-68 following a Tajion Jones layup at the 4:16 mark. Keeling answered with his third three-pointer of the contest to stretch the late back out to five and sparked a 12-3 run stretched out the biggest lead of the game at 83-71.

Keeling and Dontrell Shuler converted 5-of-6 from the free throw line over the final minute to put the seal on the game and secured the Bucs' fourth conference win over the last five games.

Keeling (27), Ty Jones (18), Phlandrous Fleming (14) and Shuler (12) were all in double-digits for the Buccaneers (11-12, 5-5 Big South) as CSU shot 53.8% from the floor in the contest. The quartet was even more impressive when it counted with the four CSU athletes combining to score 46 of CSU's 52 points and shoot 16-of-22 (72.7%) in the second half.

LJ Thorpe scored a team-high 24 points off the bench for the Bulldogs, while Tajion Jones added 15 on 6-of-9 shooting in the loss. DeVon Baker was Asheville's lone starter in double-digits with 16 points.

How It Happened

  • Neither  team was able to build more than a seven-point advantage in the first half  with Asheville taking its largest lead of the night on Coty Jude's layup with  8:33 to play in the opening period.
  • Phlandrous  Fleming followed with a three-pointer to narrow the gap back down to four  as the offense picked up following a slow start by both teams.
  • CSU  and Asheville combined for 19 points over the first 7:55 of the game  before a Tajion Jones three-pointer put the Bulldogs ahead 12-10.
  • The  Bucs worked the game back to its first tie on a Travis McConico  three-pointer with 6:25 remaining in the first half.
  • Keeling  connected on a three-pointer at the 1:36 mark to provide CSU with its last  lead of the opening period, 32-31, before Baker connected on a jumper to  send Asheville into the half with the lead.
  • Ty  Jones started the offense early for the Bucs in the second half with a  layup and converted the free throw following the hard foul to put CSU  ahead 36-34.
  • The  Bucs lead reached seven points at 46-39 following another Jones layup and  capped a 7-0 CSU run with 16:39 to play.
  • Asheville  continued to whittle the Bucs' lead down and kept the game within striking  distance, tying the contest up at 58-58 on Baker's jumper at the 8:10  mark.
  • CSU  stretched the lead back out to eight following back-to-back three-pointers  from Keeling and Nate Louis.
  • A  late 8-1 run swung a 75-70 advantage to 83-71 lead with Shuler providing  five points during the stretch to help the Bucs put the game away.

Inside the Numbers

  • Charleston  Southern picked up its second consecutive Big South road win after the  Bucs topped UNC Asheville (85-75) a week after USC Upstate (90-71).
  • The  Bucs are back at .500 in Big South play and currently in a three-way tie  for sixth place overall in the conference standings with six games left in  the regular season.
  • Christian  Keeling's 27-point game was his ninth 20-point contest of the season and  30th of his career with the Bucs.
  • Phlandrous  Fleming's double-digit scoring effort was his 20th career game with the  Bucs.
  • Ty  Jones was 7-of-9 from the floor to raise his shooting percentage to a Big  South-best 70.8% in conference play this season. He added seven rebounds  and five assists.
  • Keeling  and Fleming continue to perform off the bench for the Bucs over the last  few games with the duo combining for 41 points, 12 rebounds, and five  assists in 60 combined minutes.
  • CSU  hit double-digit three-pointers for the 10th time this season and third in  the last four games.
  • The  Bucs hit over 80% of their free throws for the fourth time in conference  play with CSU connecting on 19-of-23 from the line.
  • CSU  recorded 20 assists for the fourth time this season.

Coach's Comments

"I love the way this team is coming together and I am excited to see us improving each game. We have won four of five but we haven't played our best basketball yet." – Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh.

Up Next

Charleston Southern is back on the road on Wednesday night as CSU hits the road to Boiling Springs, N.C. and Paul Porter Arena for a midweek contest at Gardner-Webb University. Tipoff between the Bucs and the Runnin’ Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m.