Charleston Southern’s men’s basketball team entered semester exams in the classroom with a 76-70 loss on the hardwood, losing to the University of North Florida on Saturday at the CSU Fieldhouse.
Trailing for most of the second half, CSU rallied to take a 61-60 lead with 7:58 left in the game. The Bucs would extend to a 65-60 lead with 6:37 remaining but the visiting Ospreys closed the game on a 16-7 run to improve to 4-5 on the season.
Charleston Southern drops to 4-4, falling to 3-1 at home this season. The Bucs shot only 38.6 percent from the field for the game, connecting on six of 24 from beyond the arc and 10 of 18 from the line.
“North Florida is a very experienced team and they made the plays down the stretch that we couldn’t make,” CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh said. “I thought our guys played extremely hard. I thought we got hurt on the boards. We got to the free throw line but were unable to make them.
Guard Christian Keeling paced CSU with 17 points while freshman Dontrelle Shuler added 16 points. Freshman Duncan Lexander scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Bucs.
Garrett Sams led the Ospreys with 20 points while Noah Horchler added 17 points, nine boards and four blocks. North Florida shot 47.4 percent from the floor while connecting on 10 three-pointers.
North Florida committed 25 turnovers but won the battle on the boards, 47-35.
“I thought we did a lot of good stuff on the defensive end,” Radebaugh said. “We created 25 turnovers, had 37 deflections. We just didn’t make enough shots on the offensive end. We missed a bunch of wide open three’s. We are executing offensively but we’re not finishing.”
The Ospreys shot 55 percent from the floor in the first half, holding a 42-37 edge at the break. CSU forced North Florida into 13 turnovers and scored 16 points off the miscues.
The first half was tied five times through the first eight minutes before North Florida opened a 32-24 lead with 8:02 remaining. The Buccaneers shot only 38 percent from the floor, making three of 13 shots from beyond the arc.
Horchler and Sams each scored 11 points in the opening stanza while Keeling and Lexander each tallied nine points.
North Florida built a 50-41 lead with an 8-0 run before CSU steadily chipped away at the margin. A three by Shuler tied the game at 58 with 9:15 to play, capping a 17-8 run.
With North Florida holding a 68-66 lead, the Bucs missed three of eight free throws and JT Escobar drilled a three-pointer from the corner to give the Ospreys a 73-69 lead with 1:30 left. The Bucs were eight of 16 from the line in the second half.
Charleston Southern returns to action on December 11 at Furman. Furman’s head coach, Bob Richey, is a former assistant to Radebaugh.
“Bob got his start here, as a volunteer, and to see what he has been able to do makes us all very proud,” Radebaugh said. “I am looking forward to seeing Bob but maybe not looking forward to playing their team. They’re a very good team.”
In addition to the Furman game, CSU will play at North Florida (Dec. 15) and Clemson (Dec. 18).