ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Christian Keeling scored 21 of his game-high 27 points in the second half as Charleston Southern withstood a challenge from host UNC Asheville in Kimmel Arena on Saturday afternoon, 85-75.
CSU (11-12, 5-5 Big South) seized control of the game with 7:59 left in the contest as Keeling went up and in for the layup off the assist from Phlandrous Fleming. The layup swung the lead back to the Bucs in the tightly contested second half as CSU was unable to build more than a two-possession lead until late.
UNC Asheville (3-22, 1-10 Big South) narrowed the gap to three at 71-68 following a Tajion Jones layup at the 4:16 mark. Keeling answered with his third three-pointer of the contest to stretch the late back out to five and sparked a 12-3 run stretched out the biggest lead of the game at 83-71.
Keeling and Dontrell Shuler converted 5-of-6 from the free throw line over the final minute to put the seal on the game and secured the Bucs' fourth conference win over the last five games.
Keeling (27), Ty Jones (18), Phlandrous Fleming (14) and Shuler (12) were all in double-digits for the Buccaneers (11-12, 5-5 Big South) as CSU shot 53.8% from the floor in the contest. The quartet was even more impressive when it counted with the four CSU athletes combining to score 46 of CSU's 52 points and shoot 16-of-22 (72.7%) in the second half.
LJ Thorpe scored a team-high 24 points off the bench for the Bulldogs, while Tajion Jones added 15 on 6-of-9 shooting in the loss. DeVon Baker was Asheville's lone starter in double-digits with 16 points.
How It Happened
- Neither team was able to build more than a seven-point advantage in the first half with Asheville taking its largest lead of the night on Coty Jude's layup with 8:33 to play in the opening period.
- Phlandrous Fleming followed with a three-pointer to narrow the gap back down to four as the offense picked up following a slow start by both teams.
- CSU and Asheville combined for 19 points over the first 7:55 of the game before a Tajion Jones three-pointer put the Bulldogs ahead 12-10.
- The Bucs worked the game back to its first tie on a Travis McConico three-pointer with 6:25 remaining in the first half.
- Keeling connected on a three-pointer at the 1:36 mark to provide CSU with its last lead of the opening period, 32-31, before Baker connected on a jumper to send Asheville into the half with the lead.
- Ty Jones started the offense early for the Bucs in the second half with a layup and converted the free throw following the hard foul to put CSU ahead 36-34.
- The Bucs lead reached seven points at 46-39 following another Jones layup and capped a 7-0 CSU run with 16:39 to play.
- Asheville continued to whittle the Bucs' lead down and kept the game within striking distance, tying the contest up at 58-58 on Baker's jumper at the 8:10 mark.
- CSU stretched the lead back out to eight following back-to-back three-pointers from Keeling and Nate Louis.
- A late 8-1 run swung a 75-70 advantage to 83-71 lead with Shuler providing five points during the stretch to help the Bucs put the game away.
Inside the Numbers
- Charleston Southern picked up its second consecutive Big South road win after the Bucs topped UNC Asheville (85-75) a week after USC Upstate (90-71).
- The Bucs are back at .500 in Big South play and currently in a three-way tie for sixth place overall in the conference standings with six games left in the regular season.
- Christian Keeling's 27-point game was his ninth 20-point contest of the season and 30th of his career with the Bucs.
- Phlandrous Fleming's double-digit scoring effort was his 20th career game with the Bucs.
- Ty Jones was 7-of-9 from the floor to raise his shooting percentage to a Big South-best 70.8% in conference play this season. He added seven rebounds and five assists.
- Keeling and Fleming continue to perform off the bench for the Bucs over the last few games with the duo combining for 41 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists in 60 combined minutes.
- CSU hit double-digit three-pointers for the 10th time this season and third in the last four games.
- The Bucs hit over 80% of their free throws for the fourth time in conference play with CSU connecting on 19-of-23 from the line.
- CSU recorded 20 assists for the fourth time this season.
"I love the way this team is coming together and I am excited to see us improving each game. We have won four of five but we haven't played our best basketball yet." – Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh.
Charleston Southern is back on the road on Wednesday night as CSU hits the road to Boiling Springs, N.C. and Paul Porter Arena for a midweek contest at Gardner-Webb University. Tipoff between the Bucs and the Runnin' Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m.