RADFORD, Va. — Senior point guard Saah Nimley scored a career-high 39 points and Charleston Southern clamped down defensively in a 79-71 win at Radford on Friday night.
With the win, the Buccaneers improved to 14-9 overall and 8-4 in the Big South Conference, while avenging a Jan. 28 loss to the Highlanders at home. Radford, which entered the game in first-place in the league standings, drops to 17-8 overall and 8-4.
Nimley scored 25 points in the second-half, including a stretch of nine straight points as the Buccaneers overcame a 36-32 halftime deficit.
“Saah was great tonight, no question about it,” CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said. “He was a big factor in this win for sure. But, I have to really credit our entire team. We had a lot of guys out there giving a tremendous effort, especially defensively. Our defense was the key to this win and we had a lot of guys play great.”
Radford scored 84 points and shot 53 percent from the floor in its earlier win at CSU. The Buccaneers limited the Highlanders to 46 percent shooting and under 70 points until the final seconds. CSU was coming off its worst performance of the conference season on Monday night — a 77-55 loss.
“Our team was resilient and hung in there all night long,” Radebaugh said. “We were fortunate to make some plays and get some key stops late in the game.
“We were embarrassed Monday night and it has been a tough 72 hours for this team. But we gave a championship effort tonight and I am extremely proud of this team.”
Senior forward Cedrick Bowen added 12 points and senior Will Saunders scored 11 as CSU shot 50 percent from the field for the game.
Nimley made six 3-pointers and hit 15 of 16 free-throw attempts. He also finished with eight assists, moving him to within 19 of the CSU career-record of 504. The 5-7 guard topped 30 points in five of his last seven games.
Saunders’ 3-pointer with 15 minutes left in the game gave CSU a 42-40 lead and the Buccaneers would not trail again. Saunders’ second consecutive 3-pointer pushed the lead to 45-40.
Radford made several runs and the game stayed within three or four points until the final five minutes. Nimley’s basket and free throw with 2:55 to play gave CSU a 67-61 lead, and his two free throws with 1:14 left pushed the Buccaneers out to a 73-64 lead.
Charleston Southern, which won two of three games on its most recent road trip, returns home to face Coastal Carolina on Wednesday night. Coastal Carolina defeated CSU in the conference opener in early January.
“This league is so very competitive and we definitely expect Coastal’s best effort,” Radebaugh said. “We only have three home games left this season so we hope the fans and students really show up to support our team.”