BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Trey Freeman scored 22 points and Lorne Merthie made a game-changing steal with 33 seconds remaining to lead Campbell to a 62-57 win Thursday night over Charleston Southern at Gilbert Craig Gore Arena.
A freshman point guard from Virginia Beach, Freeman knocked down all 10 of his free throws, including 4 in the final 17 seconds, pulled down 7 rebounds, dealt 7 assists and finished with 3 steals for Campbell (15-10, 9-4 Big South), which improved to 10-1 at home this season. Freeman improved his league-leading free throw percentage to 87.2 (82-94).
Merthie, who averaged better than 15 points over the previous 5 games, finished the evening 0-for-5 from the floor, but stripped Saah Nimley on a layup in transition to preserve a one-point lead in the last minute.
After Freeman knocked down two foul shots with 17 seconds to go, Charleston Southern (14-8, 8-4) had two open looks from 3-point range – by Jeremy Sexton and Kelvin Martin – in the final seconds, but Freeman pulled down the final board and made a pair of shots with 3.1 seconds left for the final margin.
Entering the game ranked second in the country in field goal percentage (.502), Campbell suffered through its worst shooting night of the season (.356), but held the visitors to just 30.6 percent shooting (19-62).
Charleston Southern, which came in as the nation's 13th-highest scoring team at 79.8 points per game, stayed close by making 9 three-pointers, but did so in 35 attempts (.257).
Eric Griffin added 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks for Campbell before fouling out with 1:13 to play. Andrew Ryan came off the bench to score 9 points in 17 minutes. Darren White entered the game as the 3rd-leading scorer in the league, but finished with only 5 points on 2-of-11 shooting. However, the junior wing tied for team honors with 7 rebounds and dealt 5 assists.
A 5-foot-8 freshman, Nimley led the Buccaneers with 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting (4-10 threes). Arlon Harper added 10, but missed his first seven treys before hitting one with 2:33 to play that cut Campbell's lead to 58-56. Kelvin Martin finished with 9 points and 7 boards for the Bucs, who claimed a 46-39 advantage on the glass.
Campbell built the largest lead of either team all night when Darren White hit the first of two free throws for a 58-51 edge with 3:29 to play. However, the Camels committed turnovers on their next two possessions, including a charging foul on Anthony Horton that erased a bucket with 2:12 to go.
In between, Martin and Harper scored to cut the gap to 58-56, but the Bucs went 0-of-3 with a turnover in the last 1:54 and could not take the lead.
Campbell ended a two-game slide while stopping Charleston Southern's 4-game win streak. The victory was the 99th of CU head coach Robbie Laing's career and gained a split of the season series with the Bucs.
The Camels hosts Presbyterian Saturday in a 3:30 p.m. tip-off.