Charleston Southern storms back to stun Asheville at the buzzer




CHARLOTTE -- Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh could see it coming.


His Bucs had played really well -- despite losing the game -- at Winthrop Saturday, and he knew what they could pull off in this tournament.


"I think the world of this team. I've been telling them all year of their potential and their ability," Radebaugh said. "We've lost so many close games. We're very, very thankful and we praise God for this win.


"We played this well against Winthrop. We played this well against Upstate a week and a half ago, and we just couldn't win those games."


Wednesday, the Bucs got one.


Taje Kelly put back an errant missed shot just before the horn, giving 12th-seeded Charleston Southern a 79-78 upset over fifth-seeded UNC Asheville at Bojangles' Coliseum.


"Our plan was to get the ball to our senior guard and let him push it up and try to make a play," Kelly said. "We got the ball in the right person's hands. I saw no one was going to box me out (on the miss), so I went for the layup and tipped it in."


Four Bucs finished the game in double digits. Kelly scored 24 and grabbed seven boards to pace CSU. Deontaye Buskey knocked down 7-of-16 shots to score 18. Tahlik Chavez scored 13, while Claudell Harris notched 10.


Asheville also placed four scorers in double figures. L.J. Thorpe paced the Bulldogs with 18, while Drew Pember finished with 16. Taijon Jones put home 11, with Silas Mason adding 10.


HOW IT HAPPENED

FIRST HALF

  • Charleston Southern grabbed a 3-2 advantage on a Cheikh Faye triple a minute and a half into the game, which Ashevlile countered with an 8-0 burst to take a 10-3 lead (16:31)

  • Asheville continued its onslaught, getting a Mason bucket, a Jones triple, and a Pember layup to extend the margin to 17-5 (12:49)

  • CSU began to chip away at the lead, using a 7-0 run on a Faye trey, a Sadarius Bowser dunk, and two Sean Price field goals to cut the lead to six at 27-21 (7:05)

  • Asheville's lead grew back to 11 following a Coty Jude jumper and Quay Kimble triple, but a 9-3 CSU run again knifed the lead to five

  • The Bulldogs got a bucket and free throw from Doc Battle inside the final 1:15 that provided the 42-36 lead they took to the interval


HALFTIME STATS

Asheville: 53.3% FG (16-30), 58.3% 3FG (7-12), 60% FT (3-5), 1.313 PPP (32 trips), 56.3% scoring, 18.8% turnovers

CSU: 54.5% FG (12-22), 30% 3FG (3-10), 90% FT (9-10), 1.200 PPP (30 trips), 56.7% scoring, 20% turnovers


SECOND HALF

  • Drew Pember picked up his third foul for the Bulldogs at the 17:49 mark, fouling CSU's Taje Kelly

  • CSU cut the lead to four twice -- both on Buskey jumpers (14:54, 11:04)

  • Asheville went without a bucket for 3:37, but knocked down five free throws during the stretch

  • The Asheville lead grew to nine on a Pember trey -- only for Pember to be disqualified 20 seconds later after collecting his fourth foul, then drawing an unsportsmanlike technical when opining about the call

  • Trent Stephney drilled a triple to extend the Asheville lead to 10 at 66-56 (5:48)

  • After two Thorpe free throws gave Asheville a 69-62 advantage, CSU outscored the Bulldogs, 15-7, to give CSU its first lead since the Faye triple on the first Buc possession

  • Mason drew a foul on the ensuing possession, then knocked down both free throws with just under seven seconds remaining

  • CSU ran up the floor, then tried a jumper from the right side that would not go; Kelly grabbed the rebound and put home his third consecutive basket just before the horn




















FINAL STATS

CSU: 52.7% FG (29-55), 33.3% 3FG (7-21), 73.7% FT (14-19), 1.215 PPP (65 trips), 55.4% scoring, 16.9% turnovers

Asheville: 46.3% FG (25-54), 47.6% 3FG (10-21), 64.3% FT (18-28), 1.238 PPP (71 trips), 55.6% scoring, 14.3% turnovers


QUOTABLE

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN COACH BARCLAY RADEBAUGH

On the turning point in the game: "Not letting it get to 15. Keeping it at 10, 8, 7. Hitting some buckets to keep it within striking distance. We have struggled offensively all year. If you ask me why we've struggled all year, I couldn't tell you. I've been doing this for 34 years, and I couldn't tell you why that team you just saw has struggled offensively all year. We've gotten the same shots we got today all year. They've just started going in over the last week. It's been amazing to watch us execute when shots go in."


On what makes this team so special: "They're all my guys. I love these kids. We recruited every one of them. I genuinely love each one of them individually. We just have real relationships. We have real, honest relationships. I can get on Taje. Taje knows I love him. He knows I want what's best for him. He responds. He doesn't like it, but he responds. I think that what's made it fun for these guys is that they genuinely like each other."


On the postgame festivities: "I didn't let them celebrate. I don't wanna be here and just play well one day and go home. I wanna give it our best on Friday against a really good Upstate team that is extremely well-coached."


ASHEVILLE COACH MIKE MORRELL

On the result: "Just a really tough ending for us today. We just needed one stop. We just needed a stop. We've been in that situation a good amount this year, unfortunately. It's not gone our way as much as we'd like it to. Obviously, when Drew went out of the game with about eight minutes to go -- I'm not sure how much we were up -- but the game really changed after that. I'm just really disappointed for our players."


On whether he received an explanation on Pember's technical: "I did."


On whether he would elaborate on said explanation: "I probably shouldn't."

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