The way Charleston Southern men’s basketball coach Barclay Radebaugh sees it, any road win in Big South Conference play in a good win.
Charleston Southern saw a five-game winning streak snapped with a home loss to Radford on Wednesday night, but responded on Saturday with a 74-62 road win over Liberty at the Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va.
With the win, the Buccaneers moved to 13-8 overall and improved to 7-3 in Big South play. Liberty dropped to 0-10 in league play, 6-17 overall.
Charleston Southern stays in a tie for second place in the Big South standings with Radford. Both teams trail league leader High Point by one game.
“Not every win is going to be a beautiful, 20-point win, especially in this league,” said Radebaugh. “In a 30-game schedule, you have to be able to gut some wins out and tonight we did that. Liberty was well prepared tonight. They took us out of things we like to do, kept us off the boards, and they contested every 3-pointer we took. Credit them for really playing hard and playing well. Credit us for finding a way to win a game when things weren’t going well for us. It wasn’t our best performance, but I’m proud of our team and the way we played late in the game.”
Senior Saah Nimley paced a balanced CSU scoring effort with 18 points, despite missing all eight of his 3-point attempts. Nimley, however, made 10 of his 12 free throw attempts.
Senior guard Arlon Harper added 14 points for CSU while senior wing Will Saunders scored 13. Senior forward Cedrick Bowen chipped in 12 points for the Bucs, who shot 43 percent from the field and converted 22 of 24 free throw attempts. CSU has made 53 of 65 free throws in the last three conference games and is shooting 78 percent from the charity stripe in conference games.
The Buccaneers made six of 27 3-point attempts, the lowest number of made 3’s in a conference game this season. CSU had made at least eight 3-pointers in nine consecutive games.
CSU trailed only briefly in the first half and held a 12-point advantage at 25-13 with 8:18 left in the opening stanza. The Flames were able to rally late in the half, closing the halftime margin to four at 35-31.
The two teams traded baskets throughout the first six minutes of the second half before two free throws by CSU freshman guard Danny Upchurch gave the Buccaneers a 57-47 lead with 9:40 to play in the game. Upchurch scored eight points in 20 minutes of play — his most extensive action of the conference season.
Two minutes later Saunders connected on his third trey of the game to give CSU a 62-53 lead. Liberty went more than three minutes without scoring and Nimley gave the Bucs a 66-56 lead with 4:27 left in the contest.
Theo Johnson snapped Liberty’s scoreless streak with a 3-pointer, cutting the margin to 66-59 with four minutes left.
Charleston Southern connected on its first 18 free throw attempts before Nimley missed a pair with 41 seconds left to play. Cedrick Bowen rebounded Nimley’s second miss and kicked the ball back to the senior point guard, who was fouled with 36 seconds to play. Nimley hit both free throws to push CSU’s lead back to 10 at 72-62.
Charleston Southern, 2-2 in conference road games this season, stays on the road for the second of three consecutive road games, playing at Winthrop on Monday night.
“Winthrop is one of the teams contending for the title, just like we are, so we certainly expect a tremendous challenge,” said Radebaugh. “It’s a one-day turnaround so we have to prepare mentally and be ready to play.”