Hoops: Alabama 59, Charleston Southern 45: Bama gets by Charleston Southern

December 15, 2013 

Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Charleston Southern came into the game leading the nation in scoring offense, averaging 92.1 points per game.

Alabama held the Buccaneers to less than half of that as Retin Obasohan scored 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had six steals, all career highs, to lead Alabama to a 59-45 victory over Charleston Southern.

"I was just trying to be active. Coach was on me to keep playing. I had a slow start," Obasohan said. "My teammates and my coaches told me to stay with it. I have to give them credit."

Rodney Cooper contributed a season-high 16 points off the bench and seven rebounds.

The 45 points was a season low for the Buccaneers. Saah Nimley scored 15 points while Sheldon Strickland 10 points and Paul Gombwer grabbed 15 rebounds.

"We could not get by Alabama. They were too big, too strong and too well-coached," Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh said. "They didn't win the game on the offensive end. They won the game on the defensive end."

Ahead 24-23 at the break, Alabama (5-4) opened the second half with a 20-11 run, bolting to a 44-34 lead on a 3-pointer by Rodney Cooper with 7:31 remaining in the game.

The Crimson Tide, which has now won 15 consecutive regular-season home games, maintained a comfortable lead throughout the second half, gradually pulling away to win a low-scoring game against a high-scoring team. Obasahon made two free throws to put the Tide ahead 50-40 with 3:43 to go, matching its biggest lead to that point.

"I think (playing good defense is) what we had to do to win the game," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "We could not get into a game in the 80s and 90s and win. That's what it took for us to win the game."

Charleston Southern (3-5), which entered the game with five players averaging double-figures, jumped out to a 15-7 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by Nimley and Arlon Harper at the 10:47 mark.

The Crimson Tide took the lead for the first time, 16-15, on two free throws by Obasohan with 7:55 left in the first half. The Buccaneers regained the advantage 21-20 with 2:33 to go on a lay-up by Alhaji Fullah, but Obasohan, who scored 11 points in the first half, made two free throws and a field goal to put Alabama back in front 24-21 with 1:09 left. Saunders made two free throws for Charleston Southern to make it 24-23 at intermission.

The Buccaneers entered the game ranked third in the nation in 3-pointers made with 11.2 per game. However, they managed to make only four, shooting 23.5 percent (4 of 17) beyond the arch. They finished a woeful 23.5 percent from the floor.

Trevor Releford, the Tide's leading scorer, who had played in 28 straight games, did not play due to a hip injury.

"They a very explosive team. We knew we had to do a good job on the defensive end, and I think we did that tonight," Grant said. "It's great to see guys step up. Coop was the guy tonight who stepped up. I thought Retin did a great job running the team in the absence of Trevor Releford. It was really a team win tonight. I thought it was a great team effort."

Cooper credited his teammates for their performances.

"I stay confident. I work on my game. My teammates gave me confidence, and they wanted me to keep shooting," Cooper said.

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