Needing a win in the worst way, the Charleston Southern men’s basketball team got just what the doctor ordered — and the Presbyterian Blue Hose provided the medicine.
CSU snapped a season-long five-game losing streak with a solid 77-63 win over the Blue Hose in Big South Conference action on Thursday night at the CSU fieldhouse.
The victory was CSU’s first since knocking off the Blue Hose in Clinton, 73-72, on January 20th and was the 10th consecutive win over Presbyterian.
CSU improved to 9-16 overall and 5-9 in league play while Presbyterian dropped to 8-16 overall and 4-10 in conference play.
Freshman guard Armel Potter, who scored a career-high 21 points in Saturday’s loss to Longwood, topped that effort with 27 points and eight rebounds on Thursday.
Also posting a career-high in points and rebounds was senior forward Reuben King, who scored 13 points and grabbed 10 boards. Junior guard Patrick Wallace added 13 points and sophomore forward Javis Howard chipped in 12 points and eight caroms.
“It feels good to win and it feels good to play well,” CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh said. “We controlled a large part of the game. We had to play a full 40 minutes and we made enough plays. It was a good performance by our guys tonight. I certainly congratulate our guys and I really appreciate our effort.”
The Blue Hose jumped out to a quick 10-6 lead in the first five minutes of the game but did little else in the remainder of the half. King (six points) and Potter (five points) keyed a 14-2 Buccaneer run to open up a 20-12 lead with nine minutes remaining in the first half.
Another 7-0 run pushed the Buccaneers to a 27-15 lead with 4:25 to play and led 37-23 at the half. Potter had 12 points at the break while King had 11, tying his career-high in points.
The Blue Hose shot only 28 percent in the first half with sophomore forward DeSean Murray scoring 15 of his team-high 18 points in the opening half.
For one of the few times this season, the Buccaneers were able to build a big lead and maintain it throughout the second half. The Blue Hose did get as close as nine points in the early stages of the second half but consecutive 3-pointers by Wallace pushed CSU to a 53-38 lead with 11:20 to play in the game.
The lead reached 21, at 65-44, on Danny Upchurch’s trey with 7:17 remaining and King’s layup with 3:47 left gave CSU its largest lead at 72-50.
Radebaugh praised the play and leadership of Potter, who played 39 minutes on Thursday with only three turnovers.
“Armel is maturing and we put a lot on his shoulders,” Radebaugh said. “He handles himself better every game. As we watch film and learn, he gets better. He’s the key to our late game success. We put the ball in his hands and he produced.”
CSU came into Thursday’s game averaging 15 turnovers over the last four games but committed only six against the Blue Hose. The Buccaneers also won the battle of the boards, 43-27, including a 14-3 edge on the offensive glass.
Three of CSU’s last four games of the regular season will be on the road, starting on Saturday at High Point.
*Senior guard Demetrius Pollard, who transferred to CSU from Northeastern this season, is no longer with the team. Pollard made 13 starts and played in 22 games, averaging 9.3 points per game.
*The CSU football team was honored at halftime with the unveiling of the 2015 Big South Conference championship banner. The Buccaneers won their first-ever outright conference title and earned their first-ever FCS playoff victory. CSU finished as the eighth-ranked team in FCS.