Charleston Southern held a four-point lead with under seven minutes to play, but UNC Asheville outscored the Buccaneers, 17-5, down the stretch to take a 63-55 Big South Conference win over CSU on Wednesday night in Asheville, N.C.
CSU lost its fourth consecutive game to drop to 8-15 overall and 4-8 in Big South play. UNC Asheville maintained its grip on first place in the regular-season standings, improving to 16-8 overall and 9-3 in league play.
Freshman guard Armel Potter paced CSU with 18 points while sophomore forward Javis Howard added 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Buccaneers, however, were again plagued by poor shooting, managing just 38 percent overall and only six for 25 from beyond the arc.
While disappointed with the loss, CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh saw positive signs from his team.
“We played with a great spirit and toughness tonight,” the coach said. “When we can prepare as well as we did and play as hard as we did tonight, I can live with it. We are in a tough stretch right now, but we are still competing and that’s a good sign. I really have to compliment the guys for their attitude and effort.”
CSU rallied from a 42-34 deficit midway through the second half and used a 16-4 run to grab a 50-46 lead with 6:57 to play in the game. Turnovers and missed shots, however, allowed the Bulldogs to regain the advantage with a 6-0 run and UNC Asheville would not trail again.
Freshman guards Dylan Smith and Dwayne Sutton paced UNC Asheville, scoring 17 and 15 points, respectively. Sutton also grabbed 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who shot 45 percent from the floor for the game.
Charleston Southern committed 11 second-half turnovers and finished with 16 for the game. The Buccaneers had five turnovers in the final seven minutes and finished the game making only two of their final 10 shots from the floor.
“We missed three layups and three really wide open three’s there while we had a chance to win,” Radebaugh said. “That’s the difference in the game. Guys that we recruited here to make open 3-pointers are not making them right now.”
The teams traded times at the lead for most of the first half before Asheville opened up a 25-19 lead late in the half. CSU was able to close the half on a 9-2 run with Howard tying the game at 27 with a basket just before the buzzer.
CSU shot only 38 percent in the opening half, but Potter finished with eight points.
The Buccaneers return home to face Longwood on Saturday for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off.