Big South Tournament: Charleston Southern Defeats Campbell 81-71

CONWAY, S.C. -- “I thought it was a tale of two different halves.  I thought you saw, for us, two different teams.”

That statement by Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh perfectly summarized his team’s 81-71 victory over Campbell in the first round of the 2014 VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Championships at Coastal Carolina University’s HTC Center.  

The fifth-seeded (Southern Division) Bucs trailed 42-33 at the half, the victim of a scorching Campbell club who shot 56 percent in the first half.  The Camels hit eight of their 12 three-pointers in the half, en route to a first-round record 13 makes from distance in the game.  

Star Campbell forward Reco McCarter had 14 of his team’s points in the first half, connecting on five of his nine shots in the period.  He would go on to make just two of seven shots in the second half.  That, too, was a part of Radebaugh’s plan, to be sure.  

“We got away from my brilliant game plan of trying to zone a team that shoots a lot of threes.  That was brilliant.  Really, really smart,’ Radebaugh sarcastically remarked.  “Hopefully I can do a little better game plan in the future the next time we play them.”  

The Camels’ second-stanza struggles mirrored those of their star, as they drained just five of their 13 attempts from beyond the arc in the half.  “The second half, we were executing on everything we were doing.  We were just playing hard, and that changes everything,” said Charleston Southern guard Matt Kennedy.

Campbell shot just 34.8 percent from the floor in the second half (8-for-23), as the Bucs changed their defensive game plan and ramped up the intensity.  “In the second half, there was a lot of rebounds that we didn’t quite get that led to longer possessions or second possessions.  They were driving around us, and we seemed to foul just about every time they got the ball on the swing,” said Campbell coach Kevin McGeehan of his club’s struggles on the defensive end of the floor.  “(We were) just being aggressive, and they were fouls, I’m not arguing that at all, it was just...we were not as ready to guard on the catch as we needed to be.

“I kinda think that we were just forcing it...in a rush, trying to get something going,” said McCarter.  “We were kind of forcing it because we couldn’t get anything to fall, so we were kind of in a hurry to get something to fall for us.”  Charleston Southern guard Arlon Harper said of those rushed possessions, “We kind of got a sense of urgency.  Our backs were against the wall, and I think that’s when we’re at our best.  Desperate times...we’ve gotta put together a couple of stops, and if we don’t, we’re packing our bags and we’re going home.” You can listen to both teams press conference. 

AUDIO:  Charleston Southern Coach Barclay Radebaugh, Guard Arlon Harper and Guard Matt Kennedy (9:41):  http://chirb.it/qIcv1N
AUDIO:  Campbell Coach Kevin McGeehan, Forward Reco McCarter and Forward D.J. Mason (5:30):  http://chirb.it/s4nPe4

Charleston Southern enjoyed a better than two-to-one advantage on points in the paint (30-14), while outrebounding the Camels 41-26.  The offensive rebounding edge for the Bucs was even more pronounced, as CSU outperformed Campbell 13-4 in that category.

Harper led Charleston Southern and all scorers with 20.  Will Saunders scored 18 for the Bucs, with Sheldon Strickland and Matt Kennedy respectively adding 14 and 13.  McCarter led Campbell with 19, while Leek Leek and D.J. Mason added 13 apiece.

Charleston Southern faces a familiar foe in host Coastal Carolina on Friday.  The two clubs split their regular-season series, with the Buccaneers winning in Charleston and the Chanticleers taking a 63-61 victory in the HTC Center on Saturday.  The Chanticleers are the overall top seed in the tournament, having won the Southern Division regular-season crown.  The game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. tip-off.

Charleston Southern advances to 13-17 with the victory.  Campbell’s season ends with a 12-20 mark.

by Brian Wilmer, Big South Reporter, @sportsmatters 

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