CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern held Columbia International to 38 percent shooting and forced 23 turnovers to roll to a 90-53 win at the Buc Dome on Tuesday. The victory is CSU's 13thstraight in a home opener.
CSU (1-1) asserted control early with a 19-0 run that forged a 26-7 lead. Seven different Bucs scored over a stretch that saw CIU (2-3) held scoreless for 7:13. The Bucs' pressure defense produced another scoring drought of nearly five minutes during a 14-0 second half spurt that pushed the edge to 35. The advantage swelled to as much as 42 on a Christian Keeling three-pointer with 8:16 remaining.
Keeling pumped in 19 points to pace CSU in scoring for the second time in as many games. Junior Javis Howard sparked the Bucs' offense with a bevy of hook shots in the first half en route to a career-high 18 points. Howard also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to finish just one shy of a double-double. Armel Potter chipped in 14 points, while Jamar Martin gave the Bucs a lift off the bench again with a second consecutive 12-point effort.
The Bucs overwhelmed the Rams with superior athleticism, recording a 23-4 edge in second chance points on the strength of a 49-28 rebounding advantage. CSU also tallied 32 points off turnovers, pleasing head coach Barclay Radebaugh in the process.
"I thought for 30 minutes, we were terrific – absolutely terrific," Radebaugh said. "We took our foot off the gas pedal a bit at times which we can't afford to do but for a while, defensively, in portions of the first half and the second half, that was really good. We've spent a ton of time on defense and feel like we can be a good defensive team. We're working to develop an attitude that defense and rebounding is gonna be our ticket."
Depth was on display as well, with 11 different players scoring and nine logging 15 or more minutes of action.
"That's how we want to play," Radebaugh said. "It's exhausting to play the way we want to play because we want to create some offense with defense. We know that we want to get out and run, push the ball, play at a pace that is reflective of the types of athletes that we have out there. We feel like this is one of our more athletic teams as far as length and speed and so we want to play that way."
Keeling delivered one of the highlights of the night in front of an excellent home crowd. He missed a dunk on a fast break but then drilled a corner three moments later after Patrick Wallace chased down the loose ball. Keeling was active everywhere, tacking on seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 24 minutes.
"Christian is exactly what we thought he'd be coming out of high school," Radebaugh said. "He carries himself well and has a confidence about him that is contagious, much like a Saah Nimley and an Arlon Harper had. Javis has also really developed a lot of confidence to score on the low block too. I love having guys like that because it feeds into everyone else and makes you better."
Next up for CSU is a pair of games that figure to provide a measuring stick of where it stands early in the year. The Bucs will host USC Upstate on Saturday at 5:30, before traveling to Abilene Christian next Tuesday.
"We need this place rocking off its hinges Saturday night like we know it can," Radebaugh said. "USC Upstate has a good team and it will give us another great opportunity to get better. It's gonna be a big day at CSU on Saturday (football game vs. Kennesaw State at 11:45 a.m.) and we want to be a big part of it. We're looking forward to a great crowd."