With six of the next eight Big South games at home, Charleston Southern clearly has an opportunity to make early hay in the league.
After losing the conference opener to Coastal Carolina on Saturday, Monday's conference home opener against Campbell was a crucial game for the Buccaneers (7-6, 1-1).
Senior Cedrick Bowen's breakaway dunk with 1.7 seconds left in the game gave CSU a 72-71 lead and senior Saah Nimley sealed the deal with a pair of free throws with less than a second remaining, leading CSU to a 74-71 come-from-behind win.
Nimley finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while senior Will Saunders added 18 points on six 3-pointers. Arlon Harper scored 17 points with eight rebounds while Aaron Wheeler had nine boards.
Senior Andrew Ryan, who came into the game averaging 9.9 points per game, blistered CSU for 22 points, matching Saunders' performance with six 3's. Freshman Troy Harper added 18 points, tying a career high.
"We needed one like that," said CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh. "This team has been fighting hard. We have been practicing a lot better than we've played. We were not at our best tonight but we found a way to win. Sometimes, wins like this can get a team going, and hopefully this will get us some positive energy going."
Charleston Southern was nearly blown off the floor for the first 13 minutes of the contest. Campbell shot 53 percent from the field, including six 3-pointers, during that stretch and led, 29-14, with 6:54 to play.
Saunders got his long-range stroke going late in the half, hitting three 3's during a 15-0 CSU run as the Buccaneers tied the game at 29 with 2:41 remaining. The teams entered the half tied at 34.
CSU's run extended into the early stages of the second half as the Buccaneers outscored the Camels, 14-4, in the first five and a half minutes.
CSU led, 53-43, with 13:24 left in the game but missed 11 of 12 shots and went more than six minutes without a basket. Campbell responded with a 16-0 run, including two 3-pointers from Ryan, allowing the Camels (7-8, 1-1) to take a 59-53 lead with eight minutes left.
Saunders finally snapped the scoreless streak with his fifth trey of the night, cutting the Campbell lead in half with seven minutes left. Ryan's sixth long-range bomb pushed Campbell to a 62-58 lead with 4:30 remaining.
After Harper hit two free throws to bring CSU to within four at 69-65, Paul Gombwer's steal and layup cut the lead to 69-67 with 1:12 remaining.
D.J. Mason's basket with 51 seconds left gave the Camels a 71-67 lead.
Nimley drilled a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left to bring the Bucs to within one at 71-70.
Campbell's wild shot from the corner was long. Nimley, the shortest player on the floor, grabbed the rebound, dribbled twice up the floor and found Bowen all alone on the other end of the floor for the game-winning dunk.
"It's just me playing basketball, doing what coach Radebaugh tells me to do, which is crash the boards and run the floor," said Bowen.
"This win shows the fight we have inside us. It was a hard fought win by our whole team."
Campbell finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor, hitting 13 of 26 three-point attempts. It was the second straight conference opponent to shoot 50 percent against CSU. The Bucs shot 37 percent from the floor, converting 13 of 15 shots from the line.