BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - Gardner-Webb held off a surging Charleston Southern offense in the second half as the visiting Buccaneers were unable to complete the comeback on Wednesday night in Paul Porter Arena, 77-74.
Christian Keeling (11-13, 5-6) had an opportunity with 3.3 seconds remaining as the junior guard pulled up for a deep three-pointer, but his effort hit off the side of the rim and the Bucs were unable to get another shot off in the scramble.
Keeling (20) led the Bucs with his 10th 20-point game of the season as the Augusta, Ga. native hit 6-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the three-point line. Travis McConico (14), Ty Jones (11), and Phlandrous Fleming (11) also scored double-digits for the Bucs in the loss.
Gardner-Webb (16-10, 6-5) built a 47-33 halftime lead on the back of a strong first half performance from David Efianayi. The senior guard led all scorers with 19 of his game-high 33 points coming in the first 20 minutes. Jose Perez (12), Eric Jamison 911), and Nate Johnson (10) also reached double-digits for GWU.
Wednesday's loss split the season series between the Buccaneers and the Runnin' Bulldogs.
How It Happened
- Ty Jones and Duncan LeXander started the contest hot from the outside as the duo both connected on three-pointers to give CSU the early 6-3 lead.
- Following another Jones basket, this one a layup, the Runnin' Bulldogs quietly took control of the first half.
- GWU went on a 12-0 run closed out with five straight points from Efianayi to give the Runnin' Bulldogs the 19-8 lead with 13:44 left in the first half.
- Charleston Southern was able to narrow the gap back within single digits on a Phlandrous Fleming three-pointer at the 11:08 mark to narrow the margin to 23-14.
- CSU threatened to narrow the gap on several different occasions with Christian Keeling finding Travis McConico for the alley-oop on the fast-break at the 6:55 mark to cut the margin to 32-21.
- The Runnin' Bulldogs held their largest lead of the half at 47-30 with 1:26 left in the period following a pair of Efianayi free throws.
- Keeling had the final say on the scoring as the junior guard converted his third consecutive three-point attempt to cut the gap to 47-33 at the halftime break.
- CSU scored the first nine points of the second half to cut the deficit down to 47-42 behind the strong early play from Nate Louis (five points) and Dontrell Shuler.
- Keeling and the Bucs continued to narrow the GWU lead as the junior guard pump-faked and found the middle of the GWU defense open for the dribble-drive and layup with 15:37 left in the second half to cut the lead down to 51-48.
- Keeling continued to press the Bucs' stretch in the second half with his fourth three-pointer of the contest to cap CSU's 24-9 stretch. The Bucs took the 57-56 lead with 11:56 remaining in the second half.
- The lead continued to fluctuate over the next five minutes until Efianayi converted a three-point play at the 6:44 mark to put GWU ahead 70-66.
- CSU continued to close the gap as Keeling and Fleming both pulled the Bucs back within one at 70-69 on a pair of Keeling free throws, and at 72-71 on a Fleming layup.
- Efianayi drilled a key three-pointer at the 1:33 mark to put Gardner-Webb back up by four points.
- McConico's three-pointer with 7.7 seconds remaining off a scramble for the loose ball pulled the Bucs back with in one for their final attempt.s
- Efianayi converted a pair of late free throws and the margin held the rest of the way.
Inside The Numbers
- Gardner-Webb shot 51.4% from the floor and 61.5% from the field in the first half to building the 14-point halftime advantage.
- David Efianayi (19) and Jose Perez (11) both scored in double-digits to pace Gardner-Webb over the first 20 minutes.
- Christian Keeling's 20-point effort was his 10th of the season and 31st of his career in the loss to the Runnin' Bulldogs.
- The Bucs' 14 made three-pointers tied for the fourth-most in a game this season and marked four of the last five games CSU has converted double-digits from behind the arc.
- CSU's run was aided in the second half as the Bucs forced 11 turnovers and scored 16 points off GWU miscues over the final 20 minutes.
- The Bucs continue to share the ball well as CSU recorded its 10th consecutive game with double-digit assists (17).
"It takes a lot of energy to come back like we did. It was a tremendous effort in the second half and we played really well, shared the ball, and just continued to grow. It's a tough place to play against a really good team – but I'm still excited about how we played in the second half. These were two evenly matched teams out there. We certainly wanted to win tonight for sure and thought we had a chance if we had executed better in the first half." – Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh.
Charleston Southern is back at home in the Buccaneer Field House for a Saturday afternoon matchup on ESPN3. The Bucs host Radford in Big South play with tipoff set for 5:30 p.m.