CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern is playing the best basketball of its season at an ideal time. The Bucs picked up their fourth win in five games Thursday against Campbell, limiting the Big South Conference’s top shooting team to a 38 percent clip en route to a 72-68 Senior Day victory.
CSU (13-15, 8-9 Big South) built a lead as large as 13 points early in the second half and held on after Campbell (15-14, 9-8 Big South) closed within two twice in the final minute. The triumph keeps the Bucs in contention for a top-six seed and first round bye in next week’s Big South Championship. CSU is in a three-way tie for sixth entering the regular season finale, and needs a win Saturday and help to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
A stingy defensive effort powered CSU’s latest strong performance. The Bucs were particularly good in the first half, holding Campbell to 31 percent shooting and a 3-for-14 mark from three to take a 35-24 halftime lead. In total, CSU held the Fighting Camels ten percent below their field goal mark entering play.
Individually, the trio of Cortez Mitchell (20 point), Jordan Jones (18) and Christian Keeling (16) combined for 54 of the Bucs’ 72 points. Jones continued a remarkable three-game stretch, recording a career-high in scoring for the second straight game while adding three rebounds and three blocked shots.
“It was certainly an extremely hard fought, late season game,” CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said afterward. “I thought our guys played as good a defense as we have all year. The Princeton (offense) is very difficult to guard when you mix in their ability to shoot the ball, led by the fourth-leading scorer in the country (Chris Clemons). The reason we won was on the defensive end, we were exceptional.”
How It Happened
- Clemons scored on a layup to pull Campbell within 67-65 with 52 seconds remaining. Jones recorded a huge offensive rebound and put back on CSU’s ensuing possession to re-instate a two-score edge.
- Campbell again came within two, 70-68, with 6.8 seconds left after Clemons was fouled on a three-pointer and made all three free throws. CSU successfully inbounded the ball to Keeling, though, and the sophomore buried two clutch free throws to seal the win.
- Mitchell scored on a drive eight seconds into the second half to give CSU its biggest advantage of the night, 37-24. Campbell responded with an 11-2 spurt to close the gap to four and then hung around for the rest of the game.
- CSU pushed its lead back to ten points on four occasions, with the last coming via Jones’s layup at the 6:32 mark.
- In the first half, CSU’s five seniors engineered a solid start. JC Cavin, Javis Howard, Jamar Martin, Cortez Mitchell and Jamal Thomas all started and helped the Bucs to a 9-7 lead by the first media timeout. CSU would eventually extend its cushion to 14-7 on Jones’s emphatic three-point play. The sophomore forward took a fast break feed from Phlandrous Fleming Jr. and thundered down a two-handed dunk while being fouled.
- CSU capped the opening stanza on an 8-0 spurt to send the halftime margin to 11. Keeling hit a pair of threes to spark that stretch.
Inside the Numbers
- Jones has scored 44 of his 133 points this season over CSU’s last three games. He entered play having made 13 consecutive shots and extended that streak to 15 with two makes in the first half. Jones finished 7-for-10 from the field and 4-of-6 at the charity stripe.
- Mitchell pumped in 14 of his 20 points in the opening half. It was his second 20-point game of the season and fifth career.
- Keeling extended his double-figure scoring streak to 36 consecutive games and now has 978 career points.
- CSU limited Clemons, the nation’s fourth-leading scorer to 6-of-18 shooting, including a 2-for-10 effort from downtown. Clemons still managed a game-high 24 points by converting 10-of-11 attempts – all in the second half – at the line. Andrew Eudy added 18 points and a game-high seven rebounds for the Camels.
CSU wraps up its regular season Saturday at Winthrop. The Eagles need a win and a UNC Asheville loss to claim a share of the Big South regular season title. Tipoff at the Winthrop Coliseum in Rock Hill, S.C., is slated for 2 p.m.