DAYTON, Ohio – Charleston Southern trimmed a 15-point halftime deficit to three twice in the second half before falling to Wright State, 71-65, at the Nutter Center on Thursday.
Wright State (4-7) posted a 12-0 run over the final 3:43 of the first half to head into intermission on top, 38-23. CSU (4-7) fought back with a 25-13 run to draw within three on Aaron Wheeler's layup with 8:30 remaining. The Raiders pushed their lead back to 13, only to see the Bucs rally to within three in the final 30 seconds before three Mark Hughes free throws closed it out.
CSU's defense helped it get back in the game in the second half. The Bucs forced nine turnovers in the opening 11:30, and limited the Raiders to 35 percent shooting during the stanza. Eight second half turnovers, and 18 overall, though, proved costly for CSU.
Joe Thomasson tallied 16 points to pace all scorers, while Michael Karena added 15 and seven rebounds. Karena helped Wright State set the tone early without leading scorer JT Yoho in the starting lineup.
CSU shot 48 percent in the second half but struggled offensively for much of the night. Patrick Wallace recorded 11 points to lead the way, while Javis Howard and Rae Robinson each notched ten. Howard hit all four of his shots from the floor. Aaron Wheeler tied for the team lead with six rebounds, and also contributed nine points. Ugo Mmonu and Reuben King had six and five rebounds, respectively.
Howard scored six straight points to help CSU whittle its deficit during a solid prolonged stretch of basketball to open the half. Three Wright State free throws stemmed the tide a bit but Wheeler scored twice in close, and Potter did once, to make the score 51-48. Wheeler finished the surge with a pretty pump fake, spin move and finish in the lane.
CSU did not score again for almost five minutes, however, as Wright State put together a critical 9-0 spurt. The Bucs' defense was still strong over that time but five free throws and baskets by Mark Alstork and Hughes were enough for the Raiders to rebuild their advantage.
Mmonu got CSU's final push in motion with a dunk at the 1:49 mark to cut its deficit to 11. Armel Potter was fouled twice on three-point attempts in the last 27 seconds, and hit four free throws, to give the Bucs a chance at a comeback.
The first half featured back and forth action for much of the period, with CSU leading by as much as four just over seven minutes into play.
Wright State took the momentum into halftime with a 12-0 charge spurred by threes from Alstork and Yoho. Grant Benzinger swished in a three off a set play out of a timeout to punctuate the period, and sent the Raiders into the locker room on top by 15.
CSU wraps up its rigorous out-of-conference road slate on Monday at Florida State. Tipoff at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Fla. is set for 2 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.