The Bulldogs (4-12, 2-1 Southern Conference), who came in having lost two straight and five of their previous six games, snapped College of Charleston’s five-game winning streak.
Samford, which also won its first game on the Cougars’ home floor in seven tries, led 29-24 at halftime after neither team could score for the last 2:54.
College of Charleston (10-5, 2-1) pulled ahead 36-35 and built a nine-point lead at 53-44 with 4:54 left. The Bulldogs fought back with a 15-2 spurt, including three 3-pointers, to lead 59-55 with 24 seconds remaining.
After Andrew Lawrence’s layup closed the gap to two, Kelly made 3 of 4 free throws in the last 15 seconds.
Adjehi Baru led the Cougars with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
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