‘We’ll celebrate all night:’ Missouri’s nightmare is Charleston Southern’s pinnacle

The win was the Buccaneers’ first over a Power 5 team since 2014
Charleston Southern University redshirt freshman Travis Anderson celebrates following the Buccaneers 68-60 win over Missouri on Dec. 3. Photo by Assistant Photo Editor Andrew Moore

As the buzzer sounded at Mizzou Arena Tuesday night, Missouri walked off the court stunned. A game against Charleston Southern of the Big South wasn’t supposed to be close, and it certainly wasn’t supposed to end with the Buccaneers victorious, even after an abysmal shooting night for the Tigers.

“You never want to see that,” forward Mitchell Smith said. “I don’t ever want to see a team celebrating on our floor.”

Meanwhile, in the visiting locker room, a party was starting, a party from a program that had just claimed its biggest win in years.

Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh knew he would have a wild scene on his hands when he got to the locker room. It had been a long few days: his team’s flight had been delayed in Nashville before flying to St. Louis. The team then had to sit through a two-hour bus ride to Columbia. After pulling off an upset victory, it was time to cut loose.

“I believe in celebrating wins,” Radebaugh said.

Describing what was going on in the locker room as a celebration would be an understatement in an environment that was chaotic even by the CSU’s high partying standards.

“Our tradition is a water fight,” Radebaugh said. “We have a water fight, so I tried to sneak in the back door. I let the assistants come in the front door, and it worked. So I had two gigantic cups of water, and I got them, but then I was outnumbered 13 to one and got drenched. And then we danced, and everybody danced.”

“We were throwing water everywhere, ice everywhere,” sophomore forward Duncan LeXander said. “It was great.”

It was the Buccaneers’ third win of the season and first over a Power 5 team since 2014, when they took down Ole Miss in the season opener. Since then, they had lost 14 straight before beating Missouri.

“Being a low D1 is often very difficult because you have to go out and play these guarantee games,” Radebaugh said. “To get one pumps life into our program. It pumps life into our players, our fans and our school.”

Before the game, Radebaugh sat his team down for a talk. While a typical pregame discussion like that might be over that night’s opponent, Radebaugh kept the focus on his players: their values, what they needed to do and the importance of togetherness, regardless of what they saw from Missouri.

The message was clear: play your game, get the job done and it doesn’t matter who the opponent is.

“Rather than show them another edit film, and another thing Missouri does, we just gathered before our pregame meal and we talked about how we wanted to compete,” Radebaugh said. “And second, we wanted to love each other, because we believe love is the strongest force in the universe. And I know that may sound corny, but when you care about each other, you’re willing to box out, and you’re willing to get on the floor, and you’re willing to pass it to your teammate. You’re willing to do that when you genuinely love each other, and so our guys really bought into that.”

After the water fight, dance party and any other festivities in the Charleston Southern locker room died down, there was still more celebrating to do. The Buccaneers go out for milkshakes after every road win, whether it’s over a Division II opponent or a team hoping to be competitive in the Southeastern Conference. As a drenched Radebaugh mentioned several times, all wins are to be celebrated. Beating a Power 5 school just adds to the sweetness.

“We’ll celebrate all night,” he said. “And we’ll celebrate on the plane going home tomorrow.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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