CHARLESTON, S.C. - Dontrell Shuler hit a pair of free throws with 18 seconds remaining to help propel Charleston Southern past Big South leader Radford on Saturday evening at the Buccaneer Field House, 53-52.
CSU (12-13, 6-6 Big South) trailed by five points with 3:26 remaining following Radford’s Ed Polite Jr. converting the second of two free throw attempts. The conversion pushed the Highlanders (18-8, 10-2 Big South) ahead, 52-47, heading into the final media timeout of the game.
The Buccaneers steadily chipped away at the Radford lead late as Shuler drove in for the layup with 2:22 remaining and converted the and-1 following the foul from Devonnte Holland. Travis McConico added a free throw conversion at the 1:45 mark to cut the Highlanders lead down to one point at 52-51.
Shuler continued his strong defensive play late in games as the freshman came up with a key blocked shot on a driving layup by Carlik Jones with 30 seconds remaining to swing possession back to the Buccaneers. CSU’s defense stood strong with Radford scoring only Polite’s free throw over the final 7:15 of the game.
Shuler’s number was called again on CSU’s final offensive possession of the game and the freshman guard was fouled and sent to the line. He calmly converted both attempts and provided key defense on the final Radford defensive possession in CSU’s one-point win.
Christian Keeling led the Bucs with a game-high 15 points in the game and added 11 rebounds for his 12th career double-double. Nate Louis added 13 points, including a game-high four three-pointers, while Travis McConico had 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Polite Jr. had 15 points and 15 rebounds to pace the Highlanders on Saturday. Carlik Jones filled the statistics sheet with 12 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, and four steals over 35 minutes of play.
How It Happened
- Charleston Southern broke open a 4-4 tie with an 11-2 run to take the early lead. Phlandrous Fleming and Christian Keeling (twice) both connected on three-pointers during the stretch as CSU built the largest lead of either team in the game.
- Radford steadily rallied back behind the outside shooting of Travis Fields Jr. and Donald Hicks as the Highlanders cut the margin to 18-16 with eight minutes to play in the half.
- Nate Louis connected on a pair of three-pointers with the final stretching CSU’s lead back out to 24-18 with 5:39 to play in the opening period.
- Carlik Jones brought the Highlanders all the way back with five consecutive points, including a three-pointer at the 2:21 mark to give Radford the 25-24 lead.
- The Bucs held the lead at the half, 28-27.
- After three second-half ties, Radford built its largest lead of the second half at 51-45 following a 6-0 run sparked by a Hicks three-pointer and capped by a Holland layup.
- That was the final basket for the Highlanders as CSU took it the rest of the way and held Radford to just a Polite free throw at the 3:26 mark in picking up the win.
Inside the Numbers
- Charleston Southern moved to 2-2 in one-point games this season as the Buccaneers topped the Highlanders. CSU previously topped Presbyterian, 85-84, to move to .500 in conference play in one-point conference contests.
- The Buccaneers picked up their first win on ESPN3 this season as well after previously falling to Clemson and Furman on the ESPN network earlier this season.
- Saturday’s double-double was Keeling’s sixth of the 2018-19 season and 12th of his career; it was also his seventh double-digit rebounding effort this season and 13th of his career.
- Keeling was back in the starting lineup after a six-game hiatus. The junior guard had served as a spark plug off the bench for the Bucs during the stretch with CSU posting a 4-2 mark.
- Shuler came up big in the key late situation for the second time this year. The freshman guard was also key to CSU taking the 85-84 win over Presbyterian thanks to his last-second defense in the Bucs’ win.
- CSU is in sole possession of seventh in the Big South standings with four regular season games to play.
- The Bucs handed Radford their second conference loss of the year and first road conference loss this season.
“Radford is a really good team - a team that has won a lot of games, a lot of close games. We spent the last two days talking about defense. We were connected and we played team defense. We grinded and did a lot with a very small lineup. Big growth on the defensive end and a great team win.” – Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh.
Play of the Game - CSU's last-second defense holds on to key Big South win
Charleston Southern is back at home on Thursday afternoon for another key Big South matchup as the Buccaneers host USC Upstate at the Buccaneer Field House. Tipoff between the Bucs and the Spartans is set for 7:30 p.m.