Charleston Southern saw its five-game winning streak snapped by the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, 91-81, on Thursday night, but stills hold out hopes of claiming a Big South Conference regular-season title with a win over High Point in the regular-season finale on Saturday.
Thanks to several other upsets around the league on Thursday night, the Buccaneers still control their own destiny. CSU would need a victory on Saturday to tie for the league’s regular-season title and could end up winning the tie-breaker with the Panthers depending on several scenarios.
Charleston Southern dropped to 18-10 overall and 12-5 in Big South play and enters Saturday’s game trailing High Point (13-4) by a game in the league standings.
On Thursday night, CSU never led, falling behind 6-0 and trailing by double digits for long stretches during the game.
The Bulldogs shot a blistering 56 percent from the field for the game, including a 63 percent clip in the second half.
Led by senior point guard Tyler Strange’s six 3-pointers and 23 points, the Bulldogs combined to hit 13 shots from beyond the arc. Senior forward Jerome Hill added 18 points, as did center Tyrell Nelson.
CSU placed four players in double figures, led by Saah Nimley’s 23 points. Nimley, however, made only four of 19 field goal attempts and scored 14 points from the free throw line.
The 5-6 Nimley also reached a career milestone, dishing out the 500th assist of his career. Nimley became the first player in Big South history with at least 1,700 points and 500 assists and needs four assists to break the school record of 504, held by Ed O’Neill.
Senior Arlon Harper added 22 points and junior small forward Aaron Wheeler scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed six boards for the Buccaneers.
Charleston Southern shot 50 percent from the field in the first half but slipped to 41 percent in the second, finishing at 45 percent shooting for the game.
Gardner-Webb (18-12, 10-7) blistered CSU with hot shooting in the first half, hitting 10 of 14 shots from beyond the arc en route to a 44-37 lead.
With Nimley struggling to get on track, the Bulldogs grabbed a 57-45 on Strange’s sixth 3 of the game with 15:49 remaining. Charleston Southern would get no closer than eight points in the second half, that coming with 1:54 to play when Nimley’s two free throws cut Gardner-Webb’s lead to 87-79.
Saturday’s game against High Point will follow a CSU women’s game and should tip off around 4:30 p.m. The game will be the final home game for CSU seniors Harper, Nimley, Will Saunders, Cedrick Bowen and Paul Gombwer.