Charleston Southern led by as many as eight in the first half and held Alabama to 35 percent shooting, but shot just 33 percent and struggled against the Crimson Tide's pressure defense in a 59-45 loss at Coleman Coliseum on Saturday night.
CSU (3-5) was led by 15 points from junior Saah Nimley and a career-high 15 rebounds from junior Paul Gombwer as the Bucs held their own on the glass against the bigger Crimson Tide.
Alabama (5-4) sophomore Retin Obasohan paced head coach Anthony Grant's team with a career-best 22 points, while junior Rodney Cooper added 16.
Nimley hit a three-pointer to pull the Bucs within 33-32 at the 11:20 mark of the second half, but the Tide countered with eight quick points to stretch their advantage for good. Cooper knocked down two key triples to start the spurt, and added another to give Alabama a 44-34 lead with 7:36 remaining.
CSU would not go away easily, as Arlon Harper drove baseline for an acrobatic left-handed layup and Nimley connected on a pair of free throws to whittle the deficit to 44-38 with 6:05 left. The Bucs could never get closer than seven the rest of the way, though, as the Tide pulled away for the victory following a Sheldon Strickland jumper that trimmed the Alabama lead to 51-44.
The Bucs jumped out to a 4-0 lead on layups by Gombwer and Harper and held the Tide scoreless until a Nick Jacobs jumper at the 17:04 mark. Both sides excelled on the defensive end of the floor from the start, as each struggled to find a rhythm.
CSU established the biggest lead of the opening stanza courtesy of a 9-2 run that gave it a 15-7 advantage with 10:47 remaining. Strickland continued his hot early season shooting by swishing a three, and Nimley and Harper pumped in back-to-back treys to complete the spurt.
Alabama held CSU scoreless for the next 6:16 of the contest, however, ripping off a 10-0 run to move ahead 17-15. Cooper tallied five straight points to jumpstart the juncture, and Obasohan chipped in four.
CSU senior Alhaji Fullah helped keep the Bucs within 24-23 at halftime, sailing in two pretty left-handed jump hook shots in the low post.
The Bucs return to action this Wednesday, December 18 at Western Carolina. Tipoff in Cullowhee, N.C. is set for 7 p.m.