Charleston Southern fell victim to cold second-half shooting and had its three-game winning streak snapped with a 65-53 loss to Wichita State (10-1) before a sellout crowd of 10,112 at the Charles Koch Arena in at Wichita, Kansas, on Thursday night.
Sophomore point guard Saah Nimley scored a game-high 21 points and seven rebounds for the Bucs. Sophomore guard Arlon Harper added 12 points for the Bucs (4-6), which made only seven-of-28 attempts from beyond the arc.
Wichita State out-rebounded CSU, 46-29, led by Cleanthony Early’s 18 points and 10 boards. Nick Wiggins added 11 points while Chadrack Lufile hauled in 12 rebounds.
The game on Thursday was a much more competitive battle than the game played between the two teams last November, a game won by Wichita State, 85-57.
“Last year, we didn’t compete here very well. I thought we were a more mature basketball team tonight,” said CSU assistant coach Ahmad Smith. “We really fought hard and battled for most of this game. (Wichita State) came out more aggressive in the paint in the second half and we didn’t handle the press very well. We got behind by 12 points or so and just could not get all the way back in it. It’s a credit to Wichita State as well. They did a lot of good things in the second half.”
Charleston Southern actually led, 28-27, at the half, but shot only 25 percent over the final 20 minutes.
The Shockers opened the second-half with an 8-0 run and never trailed again. CSU’s first points of the second-half, a 3-pointer from Nimley with 15:18 to play, snapped an 8:30 scoreless streak.
Harper hit a 3-pointer with 7:40 to play to cut the lead, 52-43. The Shockers extended the lead back to double figures before a dunk from Cedrick Bowen made it 60-51 with 3:02 remaining. CSU could get no closer, missing consecutive three-pointers with a chance to cut the lead to six.
Charleston Southern’s final game before Big South Conference play will be Dec. 29 against Virginia Intermont at home.
“We have one more game to improve before we start conference play so we’re focusing on getting better,” said Smith. “We’ve played a really tough schedule so far and we have learned a lot about our basketball team. We see a lot of positive things that we can build on going forward.”
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