Charleston Southern routs Presbyterian

Charleston Southern’s Arlon Harper shoots a 3-pointer during the Bucs’ win over Presbyterian on Wednesday night.

Coming off an embarrassing performance in a blowout loss at Winthrop on Saturday, the Charleston Southern men’s basketball team took out some frustration on the visiting Presbyterian Blue Hose on Wednesday night in the CSU Field House.

The Buccaneers hit shots early and often in the first half en route to a convincing 95-58 win, evening their overall record at 8-8 while improving to 2-1 in Big South Conference play.

Senior guard Matt Kennedy scored 21 points and pulled down six rebounds and junior point guard Saah Nimley added 19 points for the Bucs. Junior Will Saunders scored 10 points and junior Paul Gombwer had nine points and eight rebounds.

“We played extremely well in the first half,” said CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh. “We shared the ball offensively. We played great defensively. We played very well as a team. I thought Saah had his best game of the conference schedule. Overall it was a great performance. It’s always good to hold home court in this league.”

The Bucs opened the game on fire from the field, hitting 13 of their first 18 shots, including six 3-pointers, to take a 32-16 lead with 9:14 to play in the opening half.

Nimley finished the half with 12 points and Kennedy had nine as CSU opened up a 52-26 lead by halftime. CSU shot 62 percent from the field in the half, connecting on 10 of 19 shots from beyond the arc.

In a disturbing trend, CSU’s shooting slipped considerably in the second half with a big lead. The Bucs shot only 39 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes, making three of 15 3-point attempts.

Nonetheless, the Bucs maintained a healthy lead throughout the half. Presbyterian would only get as close as 24 points in the second half, despite shooting 55 percent from the floor in the half.

William Truss led the Blue Hose with 18 points, but the Blue Hose were beaten soundly in every aspect of the game. The Bucs scored 23 points off turnovers and the CSU bench outscored PC, 35-6. CSU also outrebounded the Blue Hose, 41-30, including a 14-6 advantage on the offensive glass.

“I knew we would come out and play a great game after a really disappointing Winthrop game on Saturday,” said Radebaugh. “What I want to see out of this team is emotion and tenacity. When we play with emotion and when we enjoy the game, we are a lot better. We played with the right emotion and tenacity tonight. We did a lot of good stuff.”

In all, 11 players reached the scoring column for the Buccaneers. Sheldon Strickland and Cedrick Bowen each added eight points off the bench. One of the team’s top scoring threats, guard Arlon Harper, managed only five points, but had six rebounds and was credited with an outstanding defensive effort on PC guard Jordan Downing.

“We’re a team that can score in a lot of ways and we have a lot of guys that can score, and that’s the way we built this team and this program,” said Radebaugh. “When Arlon Harper scores five points and we score 95, I think it shows we’re a versatile team. I thought the job that Arlon and Matt did defensively on Downing was very impressive.”

Charleston Southern will host UNC Asheville on Saturday night. The Bulldogs suffered their first conference loss of the early season on Wednesday at Coastal Carolina.

“It’s a typical Asheville team,” said Radebaugh. “It’s a big game. We’re looking forward to it and I know Asheville is as well. We know we have to protect our home court. If we do that, and steal some on the road, we’re going to be in the race. That’s our goal.”