All year long, Charleston coach Mark Downey has been waiting for his team to fully jell, sticking by the statement, "we're not there yet."
Well, his team may have fully arrived on Saturday night, albeit in a less-than-stellar performance.
The Golden Eagles trailed by as much as 17 in the first half and didn't grab their first lead until 23.1 seconds remained, but they gutted out an 82-78 win over Seton Hill on Senior Night at Eddie King Gym.
On a night Charleston maybe should've come up short, the Eagles still found a way to earn their ninth-straight win, which was a great sight to see for Downey.
"We made some big shots," Downey said. "P.J. [Reyes] was good all night, but we really made some big shots. Xavier Humphrey made a big shot; Evan Faulkner made a big shot. We just really made some big-time plays.
"It's nice to get a win like that when you play that bad."
Indeed, the deciding contributions came from various sources for the Eagles, punctuated by a Reyes layup to finally put UC up 80-78. It capped a 28-14 closing run that gave Charleston (21-5 overall, 16-4 West Virginia Conference) the advantage. Eladio Espinosa hit two foul shots with under five seconds left to complete the scoring.
Along the way, Evan Faulkner completed a crucial four-point play to cut the Griffin advantage to four and Xavier Humphrey buried a key 3-pointer with 1:43 remaining to tie the game for the first time.
The common denominator through it all was rebounding, especially on the offensive end. UC grabbed 22 critical offensive boards, including 10 from Espinosa alone.
But the night belonged to a group of five seniors who were brought in under varying circumstances and have been with the program a varying amount of time. All five - Reyes, Marco Richardson, Philip Outley, Brandon Ross and Marcus Knott - started Saturday, with Ross being the only four-year player of the bunch. Downey said the win made the night much sweeter.
"It's big for them to get the win to send them out like that," Downey said. "I love those guys. We'll get to play at home again in a tournament game, but for Senior Night purposes it was huge to get that win. They're all great kids, great people to be around, and I really enjoy them."