CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern delivered a complete effort to roll past Presbyterian, 68-51, in the first round of the Big South Championship Tuesday at the Buc Dome. CSU led wire-to-wire and by as many as 22 points to record its eighth win in ten games and earn a date with top-seeded UNC Asheville in Thursday's quarterfinals.
A third consecutive stingy defensive performance and balanced scoring powered the Bucs. CSU (15-15) held Presbyterian (11-21) to 16 first half points while forcing 11 turnovers to build a nine-point halftime advantage. Paced by Ty Jones and Cortez Mitchell, the Bucs then kicked their offense into gear in the second half, attacking the Blue Hose zone and assisting nine of their 15 field goals while shooting 56 percent. Phlandrous Fleming Jr.'s three-pointer gave CSU a 12-point lead at the 16:06 mark and PC never came closer than ten the rest of the way.
Fleming sandwiched another three around a Christian Keeling triple and layup to spark an 8-0 spurt and give CSU its largest edge, 62-40, with 3:56 remaining. Barclay Radebaugh was able to empty his bench in the final minute as the Bucs mostly cruised to a convincing victory. PC had defeated CSU in Charleston on Jan. 24 and battled the Bucs to the wire in Clinton just two-and-a-half weeks ago.
"I thought in the second half, our team played like a good team plays," Radebaugh said. "We systematically put this game away and that's how a good team performs and handles their business. It started on the defensive end in the first half, where we terrific – absolutely terrific. Then in the second half, I thought we attacked offensively with calmness and rhythm which was really good to see."
Next up for CSU is a stern challenge at regular season champion Asheville. The Bucs took the Bulldogs to overtime only nine days ago. CSU and Asheville, at 7-2, shared the Big South's best record over the back half of league play.
"We bring a lot of confidence and we'll play a team with a lot of confidence," Radebaugh said of a 20-win Asheville club. "They're the regular season champions and they earned every bit of it. It'll be a tremendous challenge for us and we're looking forward to it."
How It Happened
- A smothering defensive showing allowed CSU to control the first half despite shooting just 35.5 percent. CSU held PC scoreless for nine minutes at one point during a 7-0 spurt that produced a 21-11 lead with 4:27 left.
- Ty Jones tallied ten points in the opening stanza to help pick up the slack for second team all-conference performer Christian Keeling, who went to the bench after picking up his second foul at the 12:37 mark. Jones scored six consecutive points to provide CSU its largest first half lead, 25-12, with 2:19 remaining.
- PC was able to stay within striking distance early in the second half, closing the gap to 36-26 on J.C. Younger's driving score with 13:08 left. CSU took over from there, outscoring the Blue Hose 26-14 over the ensuing 9:12. Travis McConico helped jumpstart that stretch with a three and a put back. Javis Howard added a rare trey – just the seventh of his career – as the Bucs received contributions from up and down the roster.
Inside the Numbers
- The 16 points CSU allowed in the first half are the fewest it has surrendered in a half to a Division I opponent this season.
- Keeling became just the fifth player in Big South history to reach 1,000 career points as a sophomore. He now has 1,007 in 58 games. The Augusta, Ga., product joins Andrew Rowsey (UNC Asheville), John Brown (High Point), Chris Clemons (Campbell) and MaCio Teague (Asheville) as the only players to accomplish the feat.
- Ty Jones was the definition of efficient, notching a career-high 17 points on 8-for-9 shooting.
- Mitchell continued his stellar play by filling out the stat sheet with 13 points, a career-high eight assists and seven rebounds. The seven boards matched a career high.
- Jordan Jones continued a remarkable five-game scoring run with 12 points. Jones has scored in double figures in four of his last five games after doing so just once in the first 54 games of his career.
- Fleming and Keeling chipped in nine points apiece. Keeling saw his double-digit scoring streak came to an end at 37 games but did hit several timely shots to help CSU create distance.
- PC point guard Davon Bell tallied 15 of his 23 points in the second stanza to pace all scorers. CSU limited Reggie Dillard, an honorable mention all-conference pick and the league's tenth-leading scorer, to ten points on 4-for-13 shooting.
CSU, the No. 8 seed, meets No. 1 seed UNC Asheville in Thursday's Big South Championship Quarterfinals. Tipoff at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, N.C., is slated for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.