Bucs drop to 5th in Big South: Martin-less CSU comes up short in late rally on road

Charleston Southern's Troy Pierce (right) goes up to block the shot of Winthrop's Joab Jerome on Thursday night in Rock Hill.

Michael Carr

ROCK HILL -- With its best rebounder on the bench with an injury and its leading scorer having an off-night, the Charleston Southern men's basketball team struggled on the road once again.

Winthrop put four players in double figures and extended its winning streak to three games with a 75-68 victory over the Buccaneers in Big South Conference action on Thursday night.

Winthrop takes over third place in the league standings, improving to 12-12 overall and 8-6 in conference play.

CSU drops to 13-13 overall and 7-7 in conference play, falling to fifth place in the standings with four conference games remaining.

Charleston Southern played without injured junior forward Kelvin Martin, the second-leading rebounder in the Big South. High-scoring guard Jamarco Warren, averaging 17.3 points per game this season, was limited to eight points and committed eight turnovers.

Charleston Southern had 18 turnovers, and Winthrop scored 26 points off turnovers.

"We turned the ball over way too much, and many of those turnovers came from our most experienced players," said CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh. "We got down and we gave a great effort to come back, but we just could not overcome the mistakes."

Adding to the overall misery was a 13-of-23 performance at the free-throw line. Charleston Southern came into the game as the top free-throw shooting team in the Big South.

Freshman guard Sheldon Strickland

paced CSU with 20 points, while forward Johathan Brooks scored 16 points and hauled in 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jeremy Sexton added 10 points.

The Buccaneers were tied at 21 with 5:43 remaining in the first half, but Winthrop ended the half with a 17-5 run to take a 38-26 halftime lead.

The margin quickly grew to 18 early in the second half with Winthrop taking a 44-26 lead. CSU chipped away at the lead behind a couple of 3-pointers from Strickland, and a Sexton basket with 7:36 to play trimmed the lead to 52-48.

Winthrop, led by 17 points apiece from Reggie Middleton and Andre Jones, answered the run with a 12-2 run of their own to take a 64-50 lead with four minutes remaining.

CSU would get to within five at 70-65 with under a minute to play, but the Eagles held on late with free throws.

"I applaud the heart and the character of this basketball team," said Radebaugh. "We gave ourselves a chance to win. Sheldon was terrific tonight and Brooks really stepped up. Had we played the first half with the same energy that we showed in the second half, this may have been a different result."

Charleston Southern clinched a spot in the Big South tournament with Liberty's win over Radford on Thursday.

The Bucs will head to Clinton, on Saturday for a 7 p.m. match up with the Presbyterian.