ASHEVILLE, N.C. – UNC Asheville ripped off a 27-9 second half run to break open a tight game and defeat Charleston Southern, 83-73, Monday at Kimmel Arena.
CSU (6-11, 1-5 Big South) fell behind 11-0 and trailed 26-12 with 12:13 left in the first half but fought back to within five points at halftime and closed its deficit to 54-52 on Christian Keeling's jumper at the 14:26 mark. Asheville (11-8, 4-2 Big South) countered with six straight points, though, to jumpstart the game's decisive stretch and claim its third consecutive win. Ahmad Thomas's layup gave the Bulldogs a double-digit lead for good with 9:14 remaining and the advantage eventually ballooned to 81-61 on another lay-in almost five minutes later.
For stretches, the Bucs played as well offensively as they have all year, snapping out of a four-game shooting funk. CSU shot 53 percent in the opening half and converted 16 of its final 24 shots of the stanza after starting 0-for-6. Asheville opened hot and stayed that way; however, shooting 62 percent overall while sinking 13-of-21 three-point tries. MaCio Teague tallied 23 of his season-high 27 points in the first half, while Thomas, a fellow first-team all-conference pick last year, added 19 on 8-for-10 shooting.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh knows his young club must keep working to improve with still 12 league games ahead.
"We had spurts but then we had a dry spell offensively and it affected us on the defensive end," Radebaugh said of Asheville's 27-9 run. "A two-point game quickly went to 12 or 14 and then they made so many shots that we just couldn't get back in it."
"I'm really proud of the way that we've handled this tough stretch," Radebaugh continued. "Our guys brought amazing energy tonight. These kids really, really want to improve and win so there's just a lot of hard work ahead of us. The best thing we can do is get home, evaluate this film, find two or more things that we can work on and just click away at them."
How It Happened
- Alec Wnuk started Asheville's 27-9 run with four points in a row and Teague tacked on a steal and layup to push the edge to 60-52. Keeling momentarily quelled the momentum with a steal and dunk in transition but the Bulldogs proceeded to run off 15 of the next 19 to take control. Drew Rackley sparked Asheville with back-to-back triples and Raekwon Miller buried one of his own during that surge.
- CSU cut into the final margin by holding Asheville without a field goal over the final 4:22. The Bucs ended the game on a 12-2 spurt.
- In the first half, Asheville rode the hot hand of Teague to immediately set the tone. Teague was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in the opening 3:35 and drilled two treys during the Bulldogs' 11-0 push to start the game.
- Teague's fifth and final triple came just 7:47 into the contest and staked Asheville to a 26-12 lead. He had 21 points by the 3:33 mark of the first half.
- CSU survived the opening blitz and found its rhythm after a slow start. The Bucs assisted ten of their 16 field goals and drilled six of their last 11 threes after missing their first four. Keeling tallied 13 to lead the way, including a four-point play to close the halftime margin to 47-42. Javis Howard chipped in nine points and Cortez Mitchell and Travis McConico contributed eight and seven, respectively, in the opening 20 minutes.
Inside the Numbers
- Keeling finished with 22 points to record his fifth 20-point game of the campaign. The sophomore has now scored in double figures in 25 consecutive games.
- Howard matched season highs with 12 points and eight rebounds while logging a season-high 32 minutes.
- Mitchell added 13, while McConico scored ten as the Bucs placed four players in double figures while shooting 47 percent overall. CSU was shooting just 36 percent over its previous four games.
- Teague and Thomas combined for 46 points on 17-for-27 shooting. Miller tallied 15 for the Bulldogs. Kevin Vannatta delivered a strong floor game with seven points, eight rebounds and four assists.
CSU hits the road again Thursday at Campbell. Tipoff at Gore Arena in Buies Creek, N.C., is set for 7 p.m. The Bucs return home Sunday against Gardner-Webb.