CHARLESTON, S.C. – Longwood's Tristan Carey poured in 37 points and the Lancers used a late 6-0 run to hold off Charleston Southern, 88-85, at the Buc Dome on Saturday night.
CSU (9-10, 3-3 BSC) took an 80-78 lead with 2:53 remaining on a tough turn-around jumper by Matt Kennedy. Kennedy tallied a career-high 28 points and was brilliant in carrying the load for the Bucs with both Arlon Harper and Saah Nimley on the bench for most of the second half due to injury.
Longwood (7-14, 2-4 BSC) answered back behind Karl Ziegler, though, to earn its second straight victory. Ziegler tipped in his own miss to tie the game at 80-80 and then twice got open in the CSU zone for layups. Longwood point guard Lucas Woodhouse found Ziegler both times, with the second giving the Lancers a 84-80 lead at the 39 second mark.
Will Saunders connected on his first three-pointer of the night to bring the Bucs within a point, and Kennedy buried another tough pull-up jumper to make the score 86-85 with ten seconds left following two Longwood free throws. The Lancers' Leron Fisher made two more clutch free throws, however, and Saunders' deep three from the right wing clanged off the rim at the buzzer, allowing Longwood to prevail.
"Congratulations to Longwood," CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said. "They played a terrific game. It was all about our defensive execution, not about our offense. Execution is all about mental focus, not ability. When we mentally focus on what we need to do, we are capable of being the team we think we can be."
Kennedy was the definition of efficient for CSU, scoring his 28 points while going 10-of-12 from the field and 5-of-7 from three. Nimley and Harper went for 14 and 12 points, but both left with injuries. Harper went down late in the first half and did not return, while Nimley was sidelined after leaving the game early in the second.
Carey gave CSU fits all night long, recording 37 points on 13-of-21 shooting and a 7-of-10 effort from beyond the arc. He drilled five threes in the first half and hit for 23 points before halftime as Longwood battled back from an early 19-7 deficit. Ziegler scored 16 points for the Lancers, while Woodhouse added 13 and ten assists. Woodhouse entered the night second in the nation in assists, and his two late passes to Ziegler were critical toward the win.
CSU entered intermission with a 53-48 advantage after a frantically paced first half that saw the Bucs and Lancers shoot 52 and 60 percent from the field, respectively. Longwood set the tone out of halftime, posting a 10-4 spurt to take a 58-57 lead on Carey's drive to the hoop with 15:15 remaining. Neither side would enjoy more than a four-point lead the rest of the way in a contest featuring eight ties and 11 lead changes.
Kennedy drove baseline for a reverse layup, was fouled, and converted the free throw for a three-point play to stake CSU to a 63-62 edge at the 14:01 mark. Carey answered with his sixth triple of the night several possessions later to push Longwood back in front, before Alhaji Fullah banked in a hook shot to account for a 68-67 CSU lead with 11:36 left.
Three different players scored on layups for Longwood, the last Damarion Geter, to give the Lancers a 73-70 advantage with 9:33 remaining. Strickland and Gombwer ignited a 6-0 spurt to give the Bucs a 76-73 lead at the 6:26 mark. Strickland came up with a steal and raced end-to-end for a three-point play, and Gombwer sailed through a spinning shot in the lane for the cushion. A Strickland elbow jumper would give CSU a 78-76 lead, their final advantage of the night before Kennedy's foul line fade-away with 2:53 remaining.
Charleston Southern and Longwood both got off to a torrid start as the Bucs did not miss for the first three minutes and the Lancers the first nine.
CSU used three early offensive miscues by Longwood in jumping out to a 13-2 lead as Nimley connected on the first five points of the game. Kennedy and Paul Gombwer both hit early three-pointers to put the Bucs ahead double-digits at the 16:45 mark. Fullah threw down a two-hand slam to cap off the early stretch off a high-low feed from Kennedy.
Longwood connected on its first seven shots of the game before Carey missed a triple from the top of the key at the 11:42 mark as CSU held the 24-16 advantage.
The Buccaneers lead stayed in double-digits at 28-18 following a pair of free throws by Gombwer as CSU shot a perfect 13-for-13 from the charity stripe in the first half in pressing their advantage. Longwood rallied back behind the sharp-shooting of Carey, and an athletic jumper by Woodhouse cut the deficit to 31-27.
The teams continued to trade baskets as Kennedy followed up a Carey layup with a step-back jumper at the 5:47 mark to put the CSU margin at 37-29. The Lancers rallied back again as Woodhouse and Carey hit back-to-back three-pointers, sandwiching a Cedrick Bowen dunk, to make the score 41-37 with 4:13 on the first half clock.
Bowen converted a layup on a pass from Nimley to push the lead back to six before Kennedy took over for the Buccaneers, draining a three-pointer from the left wing and another jumper from just inside the free throw line to put CSU in front, 53-43, with 1:17 left in the half.
Longwood closed out the half with the final five points as Carey connected on an open triple from the right corner and Jeylani Dublin hit a jumper with 32 seconds remaining as the teams went into the break with CSU leading 53-48.
CSU returns to the road on Wednesday night against Campbell. Tipoff at Gore Arena in Buies Creek, N.C. is scheduled for 7 p.m.