BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Charleston Southern freshman Armel Potter poured in a career-high 28 points, but Longwood rallied from an early 12-point deficit to down the Bucs, 75-69, on Thursday in the first round of the 2016 Big South Men’s Basketball Championship.
CSU (9-21) led for the first 32 minutes of the game before a late scoring drought undid a solid performance. Longwood (10-22) held CSU scoreless for a 5:57 stretch, and limited the Bucs to 31 percent shooting in the second half to advance into Friday’s quarterfinals. The Lancers will take on top-seeded High Point Friday at noon.
CSU got off to more than an ideal start, racing to a 10-0 lead in the opening 3:02. Behind Potter and a bevy of forced turnovers out of their zone defense, the Bucs built their edge to 18-6 by the 13:40 mark. Potter was 4-for-4 overall and 2-for-2 from three-point range in that torrid opening sequence, showcasing the form that made him a member of the Big South All-Freshman Team.
Darrion Allen tallied Longwood’s first 13 points to help the Lancers weather that early storm. He scored 20 of his 22 points in the opening stanza as Longwood entered intermission trailing just 44-39 despite 18 points from Potter and 57 percent CSU shooting.
Longwood took its first lead on a Tra’Vaughn White three with 7:47 remaining. Potter scored on a drive to give CSU the lead back on its next possession but the Bucs would not score again until Aaron Wheeler dropped in a put back with 1:27 left. Wheeler added a free throw to complete a three-point play and bring CSU within two, but Shaq Johnson connected on a spinning layup on Longwood’s next possession to re-instate a two-score lead.
Longwood shot 50 percent for the game and placed five players in double figures scoring to oust CSU from the Big South Tournament for the second consecutive year. The Lancers out-rebounded the Bucs, 41-21, and accumulated a 17-5 edge in second chance points.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh commented on a strong effort that came up short, and was emblematic of many of the Bucs’ close calls this season.
“Congratulations to Longwood because they did a good job of overcoming our early stretch and took advantage of our size, particularly in the second half,” Radebaugh said. “I thought we played really well for 30-35 minutes and moved the ball and made shots. We didn’t make enough shots down the stretch, and they made more plays when they had to.”
“I was proud of our effort, and have been happy with the way our guys have responded throughout the year,” continued Radebaugh. “Certainly our season didn’t go the way it has in the past and the way we’ve become accustomed to – competing for regular season championships and being in the race – but our guys came to work every day and stayed positive. I’m excited about what we’re adding next year, and am looking forward to getting back, improving, and getting back in the hunt next season.”