By: CSU Sports Media
Charleston Southern overcame a sluggish first half as the No. 6 Buccaneers advanced past No. 11 USC Upstate on Tuesday evening in the Buccaneer Field House, 71-52.
CSU (16-14) went on a 14-2 run early in the second half to build a double-digit advantage over the Spartans (6-26) and the Buccaneers led by as many as 21 in closing out the Big South First Round win.
USC Upstate was up by as many as seven points in the first half as the Spartans dictated the pace of the game early. Everette Hammond posted 14 of his team-high 17 points over the first 20 minutes as the Spartans went up 27-20 with 4:28 remaining in the first half.
The Bucs battled back to tie it up just before the break on Nate Louis' layup with 52 seconds remaining in the half and swung the momentum to the second half in pulling away with the win.
Christian Keeling led all players with 22 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor. The junior guard was aided by an 8-of-11 mark from the free throw line and added five rebounds in the win. Travis McConico connected on his first eight shots from the floor to finish with 19 points and added six rebounds.
Deion Holmes joined Hammond in double-digits for the Spartans with 10 points in the game. USC Upstate shot 35.3% from the floor and 23.8% from the three-point line in the loss.
"For most of our team, this is their first time in the tournament. The way you compete in a tournament is you defend and rebound. I thought our collective effort in the second half defensively was very good. These are tough games. We're at home, we're the sixth-seed playing an 11. These are games we are supposed to win. In the Big South, there are never those games. I knew we had to be able to fight our way through. I thought our guys played with tremendous heart tonight. I was so impressed with the way we played in the first half because nothing was going right, but our heart stayed right. Our effort and attitude stayed high." - Head Coach Barclay Radebaugh
Charleston Southern has another rematch with Winthrop in the Big South Championships Quarterfinal Round as the Buccaneers advance to take on the No. 3 Eagles in Gore Arena. Tipoff in Buies Creek on the campus of Campbell University is set for 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. The game will be streamed live via ESPN3.