Tuesday night’s game between Charleston Southern and East Tennessee State featured a lot of blue and gold and a lot of Buccaneers — the school colors and mascot for both programs.
In what began as a blowout for Charleston Southern ended with a disappointing loss as East Tennessee State rallied from a 20-point first-half deficit to win, 59-57, earning their first win of the season after an 0-2 start.
John Walton’s tip-in with 3.7 seconds left proved to be the game-winner as the visitors outscored CSU, 44-22, over the game’s final 25 minutes.
Freshman guard Lester Wilson poured in a career-high 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Georgetown native Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard added 12 points to lead the visiting Buccaneers.
Charleston Southern was led by Arlon Harper’s 13 points and Saah Nimley’s 10 points. The home team continued its early season shooting woes, managing just 28.8 percent from the floor, including a dismal 23 percent in the second half.
CSU (1-3) also was outrebounded for the first time this season, 39-36.
“I’ve been saying all season long that we have to relax,” said CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh of his team’s shooting woes. “It seems we’re aiming on every shot. We have to make shots. We’re a jump-shooting team. Fatigue may be a factor, I’m not sure. Maybe we need to play a few more people, we’ll look and see.
“It’s a very disappointing loss. It’s disappointing to shoot 23 percent in the second half, but it’s not the end of the world. We have 24 more basketball games and we’ll rebound from this.”
CSU grabbed its largest lead of the first half at 35-15, but the visitors ended the half on 16-3 run of their own, trimming the halftime margin to 38-31.
Wilson’s fourth 3-pointer of the game cut CSU’s lead to 41-40. Nimley was fouled on a made 3-pointer and converted the free throw for a 45-40 lead with 11:46 to go.
Gadsden-Gilliard’s 3-pointer with 8:20 left gave ETSU a 49-46 lead, but Harper tied the game with a dunk and free throw with 7:31 left to play.
Tied at 57 with under a minute to play, CSU’s Jeremy Sexton came up with a loose ball and broke free towards the basket. Sexton, however, lost the ball out of bounds with 30 seconds left, giving ETSU the final shot.
Wilson missed a jumper with 7 seconds left. A tip by Gadsden-Gilliard was no good, but Walton’s tip found the net with 3.7 seconds left.
CSU did get a shot off at the buzzer, but Nimley’s runner in the paint fell off the rim.
Charleston Southern will travel to Alabama on Friday night before returning home to host College of Charleston next Wednesday.