BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - Charleston Southern was unable to hold off a fourth quarter comeback on Tuesday night in Paul Porter Arena as the Buccaneers fell to the host Runnin' Bulldogs, 63-55.
Alecia Hardy led the Bucs with 12 points of the bench as CSU (8-8, 3-4) shot 38.5% from the floor as a team. Ke'Asia Jackson (11) and Rachel Burns (11) were also in double-digits for the Bucs, while Elyse Kiploks led a CSU rebounding effort that held the 38-32 edge over the Runnin' Bulldogs in the loss.
Candace Brown led all players with 19 points, including going 9-of-12 from the free throw line in sparking the Runnin' Bulldogs comeback. Alexus Hill added 12 points including a pair of three-pointers, while Tierra Huntsman had 11 points and went 8-of-10 from the free throw line in the win. Gardner-Webb (10-6, 4-2) shot 24-of-33 (72.7%) from the stripe in the victory.
The Buccaneers held the 45-41 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the Runnin' Bulldogs tied the game up with four straight points on an Olivia Parker layup and a Brown free throw. GWU opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run, but the Bucs fought to keep it a one possession game at the 5:01 mark on a Burns' layup, and again at the 4:25 mark on a pair of Nayla Long free throws.
Burns again answered a GWU challenge with a jumper at the 3:35 mark to answer a pair of Brown free throws to pull the Bucs back within one at 54-53. Hill answered with a three-pointer for the Runnin' Bulldogs and GWU made all six of their free throw attempts over the final 65 seconds in closing out the win.
Charleston Southern rallied back from a 10-2 deficit in the first quarter as Monique Maximilien started the CSU run with a layup at the 5:52 mark. The Bucs went on an 11-2 run capped by a Shauntavia Dobson three-pointer at the 2:14 mark to give CSU the 13-12 lead. Jackson added a late three-pointer to give the Bucs the 18-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Bucs continued to hit from behind the arc in the second quarter as Burns connected on a three-pointer to give CSU the 25-21 lead with 4:46 remaining in the half. CSU's lead remained three following Jackson's basket at the 3:19 mark and again on Breanna Saunders' layup in the final minute as the Bucs went into the break leading 29-28.
Gardner-Webb took the 30-29 lead following Brown's jumper at the start of the second half, but the Bucs continued to battle behind Hardy's 10 points in the third quarter. Hardy scored nine straight points from the 6:05 mark to the 1:58 mark as the Bucs expanded their lead to 43-37. Jackson and Hardy both added late free throws to give CSU the 45-41 lead after three.
Charleston Southern returns home to the Buc Dome on Saturday afternoon as CSU hosts Coastal Carolina. Tipoff on the Big South Network between the Bucs and the Chanticleers is set for 2 p.m.