ASHEVILLE, N.C. - UNC Asheville used a 25-3 first half run to pull away from Charleston Southern and then held off a late Bucs' charge for an 82-71 win at Kimmel Arena on Wednesday night.
CSU (11-15, 5-8 Big South) was able to build a 23-20 first- half lead even while playing without injured junior point guard Saah Nimley and struggling offensively. Asheville (14-13, 8-5) held CSU to only three points over the last 8:47 of the opening half, though, as the Bulldogs took a 45-26 lead into halftime courtesy of the 25-3 run.
Asheville built its lead to as many as 23 with 11:57 remaining, before CSU clawed its way back into the game with a 14-0 run in a little over three minutes of game time. A 3-pointer by Will Saunders and two technical free throws brought the Bucs within 66-57. CSU would come as close as 75-67 on a Matt Kennedy layup with 3:02 left, but Asheville held on for victory.
A month after scoring 35 points against CSU in Asheville's comeback win at the Buc Dome, Bulldogs' freshman guard Andrew Rowsey led the way again. He scored 24 points and helped Asheville pad its lead early in the second half. Asheville senior Jaron Lane added 22 points.
CSU senior Sheldon Strickland got hot in the second half to lead the Bucs' comeback bid, scoring 18 of his 26 points following intermission. Saunders scored 14 and Kennedy chipped in 12 but CSU shot only 24 percent in the first half and 34 percent overall and struggled without Nimley. Nonetheless, CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh was pleased with the fight his team showed late.
"I'm really happy with the way our guys competed," Radebaugh said. "We have a rule on our team - no excuses. These guys didn't have any excuses and they fought hard, particularly in the second half. They displayed a lot of character, a lot of physical and mental toughness."
CSU wraps up a three-game road trip at Presbyterian on Saturday, with tipoff at 7 p.m.