CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern cut a twenty-point second half deficit down to four late, but could not complete its comeback bid in an 85-80 loss to Delaware at the Buc Dome on Tuesday night.
Delaware (5-3) captured its fifth victory in six games and avenged a November 10 loss to CSU (3-4) behind Kyle Anderson's career-high 29 points. Anderson put on a magnificent shooting display, going 10-of-12 overall and connecting on 8-of-10 attempts from three-point range.
Sheldon Strickland and Will Saunders led five CSU players in double figures with 15 points apiece, while Saah Nimley added nine and became the 19th player in program history to score 1,000 career points.
"Give them credit, they fought for the win and really earned it," CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said of Delaware's effort. "They are a very good team. I love the character we showed in those last ten minutes. It gives us something to build on from here and hopefully we can solve some of these problems we are having. We tried and our effort was good, but not necessarily to start the game. In the second half I thought our effort was pretty good. We just have to keep working."
Delaware led 40-33 at halftime and ripped off a 15-2 run out of intermission to open up a 55-35 advantage with 17:19 remaining. The Blue Hens still led by 20 following an Anderson jumper at the 12:35 mark, but the Bucs would not go away.
CSU staged a 9-1 run during its final push, climbing from 12 down with 3:30 left to within 82-78 on a Strickland three-pointer at the 1:24 mark. Strickland started the spurt with a free throw, while Kennedy nailed a triple from the corner and drove baseline for a layup. The Bucs got a stop on Delaware's ensuing possession and had a chance to come within a point, but threes by Saunders and Kennedy went begging to allow the Blue Hens to escape with the victory.
"We've got to work," Radebaugh said. "They cut our zone up pretty good tonight. We got lost a little bit. We've got to adjust better. Man-to-man we did a pretty good job but then they started high-ball screening us, and we had to make some adjustments. We made some mistakes there too. We just need to get back in the gym and work on some things and continue to improve. We knew coming in that this part of our schedule was going to be tough. The first ten or so games, we knew, were going to be difficult. We've got to use these games to prepare us for the Big South and keep our eye on the prize."
Delaware's torrid stretch to begin the second half proved to be the difference, as the Blue Hens connected on six of their first seven shots to turn a seven-point game into a 20-point margin in a span of only 2:41. Anderson sailed home a pair of threes and sank a jumper during the stretch, which Jarvis Threatt punctuated with a layup.
The Blue Hens pushed their lead back up to 20 at 64-44 several minutes later, before the Bucs' late surge. Nimley was held without a basket until the 12:07 mark of the second half but still managed to join the CSU 1,000 point-club on a layup with 7:31 remaining.
CSU jumped out a to a 4-0 lead in the opening 34 seconds of the contest, as Alhaji Fullah converted a layup and Arlon Harper came up with a steal and fast break lay-in. Delaware, meanwhile, was held scoreless until Anderson drilled a three from the left wing while being fouled and then hit the free-throw for a four-point play.
Anderson scored 16 of his 29 in the first half, and sparked the Blue Hens late in the stanza. Neither side had led by more than four at any point until Delaware recorded an 18-4 run to move in front, 38-26, with 2:14 left until halftime. Cazmon Hayes followed up a long Harper trey with a layup to start the juncture, and Davon Usher scored five straight points to push the Blue Hens cushion to seven. Anderson then capped the sequence with two consecutive threes from the left corner in a span of 25 seconds, the second of which came off an end-to-end drive from Threatt.
Baptiste posted his second straight double-double, compiling 17 points and 11 rebounds to pace Delaware to a 41-36 advantage on the glass. Threatt chipped in 18 points, six assists and five rebounds, while Usher went for 17 after tallying 30 against the Bucs in the first meeting between the two teams.
Cedrick Bowen finished with 11 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks for the Bucs. Harper added 13 – nine in the first half – and Kennedy had all 11 of his points in the second half to round out the double digit scorers for CSU. The Bucs' bench outscored Delaware's 43-2, and CSU now holds a 278-81 advantage in the category for the season.
Charleston Southern now takes an 11-day break from game action before returning to the floor on Saturday, December 14 at Alabama. Tipoff in Tuscaloosa is set for 8 p.m. ET.