CHARLESTON, S.C. -Charleston Southern's Allie Fullah had a career high in the game's opening nine minutes and the Bucs opened the game on a 19-7 run to race by visiting Presbyterian on Tuesday night, 72-54.
Fullah got the Bucs off to a fast start with a two-handed dunk on the game's opening possession, effectively setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Fullah was 6-of-9 from the floor and made his first four shots as CSU opened a big lead early. The Bucs steadily pulled away behind a season-low seven turnovers. CSU didn't make mistakes, but wasn't sharp throughout in the eyes of its head coach.
"It was a very interesting game," CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh told the media afterwards. "We could never quite get the engine revved up. We could never get it into fourth gear. It felt so different tonight. I respect our guys for gutting one out. Not every win is going to be pretty. I'm certainly not complaining with an 18-point win, I'm very pleased with it. It just felt like we were laboring tonight. They were riding on a horse instead of a Lamborghini."
The win keeps the Bucs within a half game of first-place High Point in Big South Conference play with three games remaining. Charleston Southern (15-8, 10-3 Big South) gets little rest. It hosts VMI on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Buc Dome with a chance to tie HPU heading into the final week of the season.
"If you could choose a team in this league to not have a one-day preparation for, it would be VMI." Radebaugh said. "You'll different half court defenses and different presses and five-out motion. They are very difficult to prepare for."
The Bucs won without an explosive night from any of its top four scorers. Sophomore Saah Nimley had 11 points and Arlon Harper added six, but it was balance throughout the lineup carrying the Bucs.
Forward Cedrick Bowen had nine points off the bench and Paul Gombwer added seven points and seven rebounds as CSU held a 29-7 advantage in bench points.
Fullah opened the game sliding behind the Blue Hose defense and finishing a Nimley feed with a two-handed dunk. The junior faced up and knocked down a jumper two possessions later as CSU took a 6-5 lead. The Bucs would piece together a 13-2 run to build their early 12-point advantage.
Fullah would go on to have his best game as Buc in the opening 10 minutes, topping his career high in just six minutes of floor time with a three-point play to give CSU a 24-12 edge.
A pair of threes from the Blue Hose would cut the game to single digits momentarily at 26-17, but the Bucs bench came through with what was the game's deciding run.
Back-to-back runners from Matt Kennedy and Sheldon Strickland, then a tip-in of his own miss and a dunk from Bowen to lead the break pushed the Bucs' lead out to 33-18.
CSU would extend its lead to as many as 20 points in the opening half. It shot 70 percent from two-point range in the half and had only three turnovers. Of the 11 Bucs who played in the first half, nine scored.
CSU kept the game out of reach for the entire second half, but was never comfortable despite building their lead to 25. PC cut the lead to 65-51 with under six minutes to play, but a three-pointer from Mathiang Muo and a layup from Paul Gombwer silenced the Blue Hose late run.
The Bucs shot 45 percent for the game to move to 15-0 this season when they shoot s higher field goal percentage than their opponent.
Fullah's 13 points were CSU's team high, but 11 Bucs scored on the night.
Josh Clyburn led PC with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Eric Washington added 10 and five assists.
CSU hosts VMI on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. The game is part of a doubleheader with the Lady Buccaneers, who host Coastal Carolina at 5 p.m.