BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Charleston Southern staged a 19-2 run to erase a ten-point second half deficit and top Campbell, 82-75, at Gore Arena on Saturday.
CSU (7-11, 3-4 Big South) trailed, 68-58, with 8:05 remaining before holding Campbell (8-10, 2-6 Big South) without a field goal for seven-plus minutes. Rae Robinson buried three three-pointers and scored 11 of his career-high 19 points during that surge to key the Bucs offensively.
Demetrius Pollard dropped in a pull-up jumper to polish off the run and put CSU ahead 77-70 with 1:18 left. Campbell came as close as four in the final 30 seconds, but Robinson hit three free throws to cement CSU's second straight win.
Aaron Wheeler gave the Bucs energy early in the second half, and matched a career-high with 19 points, including 17 after halftime. Armel Potter tallied 12 of his 14 points in the second half. Pollard added 13 points and six assists, and Javis Howard chipped in ten points as the Bucs placed five players in double figures. CSU connected on 10-of-17 attempts from beyond the arc, including a blistering 7-of-9 effort in the second stanza.
"We played fearlessly," CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh said after the Bucs fourth straight win over Campbell. "Nothing bothered us today. We just kept plugging along. We talked to them all the last couple of days about just playing one possession at a time, not worrying about the score at the end of the game. I think our kids have been wanting to win maybe too badly so it was good to see us relax, execute and play."
"The switch to zone was really good," continued Radebaugh on CSU's string of defensive stops late. "Ahmad Smith made that suggestion, it worked well and we finished the game. We just talked about picking up our intensity. We mixed it up with zone a little bit because we felt like we needed to change their rhythm."
Chris Clemons, the nation's sixth-leading freshman scorer entering play, posted 26 points to pace Campbell. D.J. Mason scored 19, and Troy Harper had all 11 of his points in the second half. CSU held Campbell to 3-of-15 shooting down the stretch after the Fighting Camels connected on ten of their first 15 shots of the half.
Campbell led by as much as 11 in the first half, and pushed a four-point halftime edge back to 11 on two Harper free throws at the 9:30 mark. Clemons drilled one his six treys to put Campbell in front by ten before CSU's big final push.
Robinson sailed home threes from the left corner, left wing and top of the key in a span of 1:46 to pull the Bucs within a point. Howard made two free throws to give CSU its first lead, 71-70, with 5:48 remaining. Howard then had a steal and found Robinson for a lay-in, before Potter drained a pull-up jumper to send the CSU advantage to five. After a nearly three-minute scoreless drought for both sides, Pollard connected on a short jumper to put the exclamation point on the comeback.
CSU trailed 34-30 at halftime, and stayed within three early in the second half as Wheeler notched 11 of the Bucs' first 13 points. He had two three-point plays and banked in a three-pointer.
CSU tied the game twice early in the second half, only to see Campbell answer with six quick points both times. Harper recorded back-to-back three-point plays to provide one of those responses. He, Rod Days and Clemons connected on triples to increase Campbell's cushion before CSU controlled the final eight minutes.
The first half of the opening 20 minutes was methodically played, and the game was tied at eight apiece until the Camels ripped off a 15-4 run. Clemons had two threes, a steal and an emphatic dunk during that sequence.
The Bucs narrowed the gap to four by halftime thanks to a run of eight points from Pollard, and a late three by Robinson.
CSU heads back on the road on Wednesday at Presbyterian with a chance to get to .500 in Big South play. Tipoff at the Templeton Center in Clinton, S.C. is slated for 7 p.m.