CHARLESTON, S.C. – Gardner-Webb shot 61 percent from the floor and asserted control early to hand Charleston Southern an 85-76 defeat on Saturday at the Buc Dome.
The Runnin' Bulldogs broke a 12-12 tie with a 19-2 run midway through the first half and mostly cruised from there. GWU (12-11, 5-5 Big South) led 42-28 at halftime and by as many as 19 points in the second half en route to a season sweep of CSU (7-14, 3-7 Big South). The Bucs cut their deficit to eight with 12:44 left and again at the 2:05 mark but could never build momentum on either end of the floor.
GWU point guard LaQuincy Rideau paced a balanced effort with 17 points and seven assists. Liam O'Reilly chipped in 15 points, including two three-pointers during a timely 11-0 spurt that sent the Runnin' Bulldogs lead to 64-45. Tyrell Nelson added 13 points and eight rebounds. Seven GWU players scored eight points or more.
Christian Keeling tallied 27 points to carry much of the scoring load for CSU. It was the freshman's sixth 20-point performance of the season. Cortez Mitchell and Armel Potter contributed 11 each, with most of that coming in the second half as CSU shot nearly 52 percent following a 38 percent first half.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh was disappointed to see Gardner-Webb play the role of aggressor. The Bucs had won three of their last five games, with the only losses a close defeat to first-place UNC Asheville and Thursday's overtime loss at High Point.
"It was obviously not our best performance of the year," Radebaugh said. "I thought we came out flat emotionally, flat physically and flat mentally. Against a good team like Gardner-Webb, obviously you can't do that. You've gotta be ready to go every game. You can't pick and choose which game."
"In fairness, our guys have competed very well the last four or five games," Radebaugh continued. "We haven't had a game like this. Hopefully this is a one-time thing that we'll be able to overcome in practice Monday and Tuesday and get ready to go play a really good Asheville team."
CSU's best opportunity to get back in the game came courtesy of a 10-2 second half run which whittled its deficit to 53-45 with 12:33 remaining. Antwan Maxwell and Potter each connected on triples to highlight the surge. GWU immediately countered with 11 consecutive markers. Brandon Miller made a layup in traffic, Jamaal Robateau knocked down a trey and O'Reilly sailed home two to push the cushion to 19.
Both teams eased into the contest over the first several minutes. Javis Howard hit a jumper to tie the game at 12 apiece 6:15 into play before GWU scored eight quick points in just 1:21. Rideau and O'Reilly made threes and O'Reilly added another jumper to polish off a 10-0 spurt. Keeling drove for a layup to momentarily stem the tide before the Runnin' Bulldogs posted nine more points in a row. DJ Laster notched a three-play point play and threw down a dunk during that stretch.
CSU returns to action Wednesday at UNC Asheville, starting a stretch of three of four games on the road. Tipoff at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, N.C., is set for 7 p.m.