Bucs edge Lancers

Frank Selden/Special to The Post and Courier Aaron Wheeler dunks during the first half of Charleston Southern's 65-64 win over Longwood.

Charleston Southern men’s basketball coach Barclay Radebaugh said after Wednesday night’s win over Coastal Carolina that none of the seven teams currently in the hunt for the Big South Conference’s regular-season title wanted to play the bottom four teams in the league standings.

On Saturday night, Radebaugh’s Buccaneers ran into one of those bottom feeders, needing a monumental second-half effort to hold off the Longwood Lancers, 65-64.

CSU improved to 16-9 overall and 10-4 in Big South play, hanging on to a share of first place in the Big South standings with four games remaining in the regular season. The win also secured CSU’s third winning season in the last four years.

Senior guard Arlon Harper paced four Buccaneers in double figures, scoring 21 points. Junior Aaron Wheeler added 13 points while seniors Cedrick Bowen and Will Saunders each scored 11 points.

CSU senior point guard Saah Nimley, the Big South’s leading scorer at 20.6 points per game, was held to only six points.

“In this conference, at this point in the season, any win is a good win,” said Radebaugh. “I told everybody that this league is really good from top to bottom. There are no easy opponents. Longwood came to play, as I knew they would.

“College basketball is not a beauty contest. The goal is to score one more point than your opponent and tonight we did that. We are very thankful for the win and I am very proud of our guys for making plays late.”

The game could not have started any better for Harper and the Bucs. Harper scored 11 of CSU’s first 13 points in the opening four minutes and the Buccaneers grabbed a 13-5 lead.

Harper would finish the half with 17 points and CSU held a 30-10 lead with 12:17 remaining in the first half. However, the Lancers (7-20, 3-11) worked back into the game, ending the half on a 24-9 run to trail only 39-34 at the break.

Longwood continued the run into the early stages of the second half, tying the game at 41 on Quincy Taylor’s 3-pointer with 17:14 to play in the game. Taylor would finish with a career-high 30 points, hitting six of Longwood’s 13 3-pointers in the game.

“Quincy was terrific, really good,” said Radebaugh. “He made some really tough shots and he kept them in the game.”

Later in the half, Taylor scored nine consecutive points in a 9-2 run to push Longwood to its first lead of the game at 53-50 with 7:48 remaining.

Longwood’s lead would reach five at 56-51 on Ryan Badowski’s 3-pointer with 7:34 remaining, but the Buccaneers put together a 12-4 run, capped by Bowen’s dunk, to take a 63-60 lead with 1:43 left in the game.

CSU clamped down defensively, limiting the Lancers to only a free throw over the final 2:03 and sealed the victory at the free throw line. Bowen’s free throw with 13 seconds remaining gave CSU a 64-60 lead. Nimley added a free throw with three ticks left on the clock and Taylor reached 30 points for Longwood with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Charleston Southern will host Presbyterian, another team sitting in the bottom third of the standings, on Wednesday night. CSU beat the Blue Hose, 73-65, on Jan. 17.

“We expect a battle,” said Radebaugh. “Presbyterian is capable of beating any team in this league and already have some big wins.”