Playing its fourth game in seven days, with two very important conference games coming up, it would have been easy for the Charleston Southern men’s basketball team to take Saturday’s game at Rider with a grain of salt.
On the contrary, CSU put forth a tremendous effort yet came up on the short end of the scoreboard. Charleston Southern saw its three-game winning streak snapped with a 61-54 loss.
“We played absolutely as hard as we could play tonight, and I have never been more proud of a basketball team,” said Bucs coach Barclay Radebaugh. “We had a tough night shooting, but we scrambled all over the floor defensively and we did a great job on the boards.
“This was our fourth game in seven days, and we played a team that had not played since last Sunday. It was a tremendous challenge for us and I thought our players answered the call. We didn’t win the game, but the score of this game is not indicative of our effort.”
Charleston Southern (16-10) outrebounded the bigger Broncs, 46-41, including 18 offensive boards. CSU also forced 18 turnovers. However, CSU continued its road shooting woes, connecting on a season- low 27.8 percent from the field.
Arlon Harper led CSU with 13 points, while Cedrick Bowen added 10. Paul Gombwer had 10 rebounds and Mathiang Muo had nine points and nine boards.
“We came to win the game, and we don’t make excuses,” said Gombwer. “We gave a good fight, but we came up short. We credit Rider for winning the game and we move on.”
After taking a 27-24 halftime lead, CSU opened up a 36-28 lead with 16:04 left in the game on a pair of free throws from Harper. Rider (16-13) went on an 11-0 run to take a 39-36 lead, but CSU answered with an 8-0 run to take a 44-39 advantage with 9:24 to go.
The Bucs went cold over the final nine minutes, managing only 10 points. A 13-2 run gave Rider a 52-46 lead with 4:50 remaining. CSU would cut the lead to 52-50 with 2:10 left, but Rider hit free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
CSU is at Gardner-Webb on Wednesday.
The Bucs close the season at home against Coastal Carolina next Saturday.
Charleston Southern can clinch the overall Big South regular season championship with a pair of victories.