WICHITA, Kan. – Wichita State reeled off a 15-2 run at the end of the first half and into the second half to rally from an early deficit and beat the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, 65-53, on Thursday night at Charles Koch Arena.
The Bucs see a three-game win streak come to an end in the loss, falling to 4-6 on the year. The Shockers improve to 10-1.
CSU went 9:12 without a field goal during a decisive run in the middle of the game as WSU rallied from a 26-20 deficit to build a double-digit lead. The game was the Bucs second in just over 48 hours, with the two games coming over 1,000 miles apart. The Bucs beat East Tennessee State, 72-51, on Tuesday night in Johnson City, Tenn.
The Bucs led for much of the first half, but couldn't get enough shots to fall to keep some distance between themselves and the Shockers. The Bucs shot just 34 percent (17-of-50) for the game and made just 3-of-17 three-point field goals after starting hot.
Sophomore guard Saah Nimley had a season-high 21 points and made four three-pointers in the loss. He sparked the Bucs early with 14 points in the opening half and made three early threes to give the Bucs their largest lead late in the first half.
Sophomore guard Arlon Harper added 12 points and three steals for CSU.
Wichita State went to work on the boards to take control of the game. The Shockers outrebounded CSU, 42-25, marking only the third time this season the Bucs have been outrebounded.
WSU forward Cleanthony Early reeled off 13 straight points in the second half as the Shockers opened the second half on an 8-0 run. He led WSU with 20 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Forward Nick Wiggins added 11 points and two boards for WSU.
After falling behind 9-1 early, CSU ran off five straight points, in the span of about five seconds to cut the lead to 9-6 in the opening minutes.
Saah Nimley connected on his first three-point attempt of the night and Arlon Harper stole the ensuing inbounds pass and laid it in as CSU scored in a flurry.
The Bucs stayed close attacking the rim against the Shockers as Jeremy Sexton knocked down a pair of free throws and Allie Fullah hit a short jumper.
Nimley would match the Shockers score-for-score over the next five minutes. He scored five-straight points to give the Bucs the lead at 19-18 at the 9:09 mark.
The Shockers led 20-19 on a layup by Nick Wiggins at the 8:40 mark of the first half, before the Bucs put together their best stretch of the half.
Harper scored five straight points and Paul Gombwer knocked down a three from the left wing, the Bucs' fourth of the half, as CSU took its largest lead at 26-20 with over five minutes left in the half.
Nimley knocked down a 15-foot jumper for the Bucs' final points of the half with 4:40 to play. He had 14 points in the opening half and a trio of three-pointers.
WSU finished the half with a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 28-27 at the break. CSU was the first team this season to lead the Shockers at the half.
The Shockers continued their run to open the second half, scoring the first eight points of the half to grab a 35-28 lead. Cleanthony Early scored the first 13 points of the half for WSU as it built a double-digit lead.
CSU's Sheldon Strickland buried a three from the right wing to cut the lead back to seven with 11:40 to play, but WSU pushed it back to 13 over the next three minutes as Early and Wiggins went to work.
Charleston Southern returns to action on Dec. 29 at home against Virginia Intermont. Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m. at the Buc Dome. The Bucs open Big South conference play on Jan. 5 at Radford at 4 p.m.