By: CSU Sports Media
Phlandrous Fleming put together one of the most efficient nights of his career as Charleston Southern ran away from visiting USC Upstate on Thursday night inside the Buccaneer Field House, 89-75.
Fleming was 11-of-15 from the floor on his way to scoring a season-high 25 points to pace four Bucs (7-6, 1-0 Big South) in double-digits in the Big South opener for both teams. Dontrell Shuler added 19 points (17 in the first half), while Deontaye Buskey (13) and Travis Anderson (10) were also in double-digits for CSU.
Everette Hammond paced the Spartans (5-9, 0-1 Big South) with 19 points, aided by 8-of-9 shooting from the free throw line, while Tommy Bruner added 17 points and four rebounds in the loss. Bryson Mozone added 14 points off the bench for the Spartans.
The Bucs picked up their fifth consecutive win in the series against the Spartans and 10th in the past 11 games between the two teams dating back to the first matchup in the 1966-67 season.
The two teams jumped out to a fast-paced first four minutes of the contest as USC Upstate connected on three of their first four shots in building a 7-3 lead following a Bruner three-pointer. The Bucs countered by hitting their first five shots with Buskey, Shuler, and Duncan LeXander all connecting from behind the arc to go ahead 15-9 with 16:25 remaining in the first half.
The Spartans tied the game up at 15-15 with 13:12 on the clock following a Hammon layup, but the Bucs responded with a 7-2 stretch paced by a Malik Battle three-pointer to pull back ahead 22-17. From there on, it was the Shuler show in the first half as the sophomore guard hit 5-of-7 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free throw line in scoring 17 first half points.
The Bucs lead hit 16 with 2:38 remaining in the first half following a Fleming jumper to put CSU ahead 41-25, before the Spartans rallied with a 10-3 run to cut the margin down to nine at the halftime break.
Buskey continued to have the hot hand from the outside at the start of the second half as the junior guard drilled a pair of early three-pointers to stretch the CSU lead to 52-38 with 17:32 remaining. The Spartans would cut the CSU lead down to nine on two separate occasions in the second half, before the Bucs pulled away for good.
The Bucs' lead hit 21 points on a Fleming pull-up jumper with 4:44 remaining as CSU went ahead 82-61, and the junior guard's breakaway slam two possessions later capped the Charleston Southern win in the Big South home opener.
Charleston Southern is back in action as the Bucs hit the road for a Saturday showdown at Hampton University. Tipoff between the Bucs and the Pirates is set for 6 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.