CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern rallied back from a 17-point second half deficit but came up just short in a 74-72 loss to Campbell at the Buc Dome on Saturday.
Rae Robinson was the main reason CSU had a chance in the closing seconds. He drained seven three-pointers en route to a career-high 27 points. The Bucs trailed by 12 at halftime, dug themselves a 17-point hole early in the second half and were still behind by ten with 3:08 remaining. A Robinson jumper jumpstarted a game-ending push that included a run of eight straight points from Reuben King.
CSU (9-19, 5-12 Big South) almost finished off its improbable comeback bid as it had everything but the final result go its way after Campbell (12-15, 5-11 Big South) fouled Armel Potter to prevent a potential game-tying three with 2.8 seconds left. Potter made the first free throw before intentionally missing the second. Wesley Johnson spun around a Campbell defender and tipped the ball in the air. A hard charging Robinson grabbed the ball in the paint and had an open look that would not fall as the final buzzer sounded.
"I felt like I got the shot off clean," Robinson said afterward. "Wes Johnson, he did a good job of doing what he's supposed to do, spinning. In that situation, we want to do that and he did a good job tipping it out. I'm supposed to stand at the three-point ling there but I just knew something was gonna happen so I went down and tried to help the team. It just came up short and it's unfortunate."
Troy Harper posted a career-high 26 points to pace Campbell, which hit 12 of its first 20 shots en route to building a 44-32 halftime lead. The Fighting Camels have rebounded from a ten-game losing streak with four straight wins.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh lauded Robinson's play and his team's late effort, but lamented missed opportunities over the majority of the contest.
"That layup didn't cost us the game," Radebaugh said. "We missed eight free throws. We let them behind our press four times for layups. So if you look at the mistakes in the previous 30 minutes, there's lots of mistakes. Without Raemond, it wouldn't have even been close."
One of Robinson's seven triples tied the game at 21 apiece nine minutes into play, but Campbell rattled off a 15-2 run to take control. Chris Clemons started the second half scoring with a three, and Harper scored on a transition layup to send the Camels' advantage to 51-34 at the 17:59 mark.
Back-to-back treys from Robinson bolstered the Bucs hopes later in the half, with the latter closing the gap to 56-48. Campbell still appeared to have the game in hand at the final media timeout before CSU rallied down the stretch.
King, honored along with Jabbar Washington and Aaron Wheeler on CSU's Senior Day, was the driving force in the closing sequence. He had four layups in a span of 1:52, with the last coming off an offensive rebound by Javis Howard. King set a career high with 14 points, and added ten rebounds for his second double-double in as many weeks.
Howard had five offensive boards as well, as CSU scrapped and clawed its way to 24 offensive rebounds, including 15 in the second half. The Bucs also forced ten second half turnovers and appeared to ratchet up their intensity late.
"My question to them after the game was can we put 40 minutes together with that type of intensity," Radebaugh said. "I want it to be a lesson. We've got a young team. Our year hasn't gone the way we wanted it to go. We've had a lot of close games where we've come up just short. If you can stay positive and learn from these mistakes, then the following year you set the table to have a positive year. These games are going to benefit us for the remainder of this year and into next year."
CSU concludes its regular season on Thursday at Coastal Carolina. Tipoff at the HTC Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.