It wasn't easy, but Charleston Southern closed out the regular season with a 65-59 win over host Radford on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, CSU finishes the regular season with an 18-11 record overall and an 11-7 mark in Big South Conference play. The Bucs finished fourth in the Big South regular season standings and will play Liberty on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Big South tournament in Asheville, N.C.
Senior forward Kelvin Martin had his third consecutive 20-plus scoring effort, posting 21 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks and three steals. Martin scored 79 points in the final three games of the season.
"Someone has to convince me that Kelvin is not the best player in this league," said CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh. "There is no more valuable player to his team at the mid-major level than Kelvin is to our basketball team. He's had a great season, and he really played great for us down the stretch."
Freshman guard Arlon Harper added 19 points and junior guard Jeremy Sexton scored 11, including four straight free throws in the final 11 seconds to help CSU secure the win.
"I'm very proud of this team, winning 18 games and winning 11 conference games," said Radebaugh. "It's been a great season for us, but we hope it doesn't end for a little while longer. Our goal is to play three games next week in the tournament and get a bid to the NCAA tournament."
A closely contested first half ended in a 34-34 tie, and the second half was equally as competitive.
The game was tied at 50 with eight minutes remaining before the Highlanders opened up a 54-51 lead with 5:45 to play. CSU regained the lead with baskets by Sexton and Martin and a pair of free throws by Harper to go up, 57-54, with 3:03 to play.
Leading 59-57 with under a minute left, Sexton hit a pair of free throws with 11 seconds after being intentionally fouled on a breakaway. He again was fouled on the ensuing inbounds play and hit two more free throws with 10 seconds left to push the Bucs up by six.
CSU shot only 29 percent in the second half but converted 15-of-22 free throws in the half and made 25-of-36 from the charity stripe for the game.
"We never could quite put it away and we allowed them to stay in the game because we weren't shooting the ball well," Radebaugh said.
"But, we were able to get to the line and made some free throws and came away with a great win to enter the conference tournament."
3-Point -- CSU 6-15 (Harper 4-5, Nimley 0-4, Muo 1-3, Sexton 1-3); Rad 4-19 (Green 0-2, Smith 2-3, Price 0-4, Mitchell 0-1, Smith J 1-5, Smith B 1-3, Noreen 0-1). Steals -- CSU 10 (Martin 3, Harper 3); Rad 7 (Green 3). Blks -- CSU 5 (Martin 5); Rad 1 (Edwards). Turnovers -- CSU 17 (Martin 4, Gombwer 4); Rad 17 (Green 5). Att--1,349.