Sophomore Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.) scored a career-high 27 points including 16 in the first half of play as College of Charleston handed Kent State only its second home loss of the season, 80-73, in an ESPN Sears BracketBusters matchup held on Saturday night before a crowd of 3,682 at the M.A.C. Center.
The Cougars (17-11) held off a late rally by the Golden Flashes (19-7), who went cold from behind the three-point line for the majority of the ballgame (0-of-18) and then 6-of-11 as part of an 18-1 run which cut CofC's lead down to 68-66 with 3:53 remaining in regulation.
Senior Antwaine Wiggins (Greeneville, Tenn.) scored seven crucial points in the last two minutes, including a 5-for-6 performance from the charity stripe, to seal the victory and snap the Golden Flashes' seven-game win streak.
Wiggins registered 17 points and eight rebounds and switched over to his normal spot on the wing to the point guard position after junior Andrew Lawrence (London, England) fouled out and Kent State only down by five, 68-63, with 4:15 to go.
The Cougars went into halftime with a 36-33 lead after chipping away at a 17-5 deficit beginning with the first of four three-pointers by Johnson, who got CofC within six, 17-11, at the 10:33 minute mark.
CofC started the second half strong on a 9-0 run and led by as many as 19 points twice on a pair of three-pointers off the bench from sophomore Jordan Scott (Darlington, S.C.) at the 10:30 and 8:58 minute marks. The Cougars have now won four of their last five under CofC Interim Head Coach Mark Byington.
Sophomore Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.) also contributed to the road win with his ninth double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Kent State, who had previously only lost to Cleveland State with an 11-1 home-court mark going into the contest, played without the services of leading scorer Justin Greene, who missed the game with an ankle injury. The Golden Flashes were paced by Carlton Guyton and Chris Evans, who each had 16.
The Cougars will return home and host South Division foe Georgia Southern (14-12, 12-4 SoCon) in their regular-season home finale on Thursday, Feb. 23 at TD Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. (ET) and the game will be televised live locally on MyTV Charleston and carried nationally on ESPN3. Wiggins, the team's lone senior, will be honored prior to the game in a special Senior Night ceremony.
* For the eighth time this season, CofC used the starting lineup of junior Andrew Lawrence, sophomore Nori Johnson, senior Antwaine Wiggins, sophomore Trent Wiedeman and freshman Adjehi Baru (4-4).
* With the road win, the Cougars remain an undefeated 2-0 in the all-time series with Kent State. Both team's last met in the 2003 NIT First Round on March 19, 2003 in Kent, Ohio, and the Golden Flashes will return the ESPN BracketBusters game either next season or in 2013-14.
* CofC improves to 5-1 all-time in ESPN BracketBuster games and has won its last five-straight appearances in the event dating back to a 85-75 win over VCU in 2005.
* Nori Johnson was one point shy of his career high with 16 points in just the first half of play. He scored a career-best 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor, 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe against Kent State. It marked his first career 20-point outing and extends his career-best double-digit scoring streak to five-straight games.
* Trent Wiedeman turned in his ninth double-double of the season and 13th of his career with 14 points and a game-high tying 13 rebounds versus Kent State. He has produced a double-double in three of the team's last six contests.
* Antwaine Wiggins registered 17 points including a career-best 10-for-16 performance from the charity stripe. He has now scored in double figures in 26-of-28 games played this season
* The Cougars shot a season-best 55.6 percent from beyond the arc (10-of-18) behind a career-high five three-pointers by Nori Johnson followed by two each from junior Matt Sundberg and sophomore Jordan Scott off the bench.
College of Charleston Interim Head Coach Mark Byington
On the game and the team's comeback in the first half ...
"Early on, I felt like we were making Kent State take contested shots and then they would get the offensive rebound. That was their offense from the first half to the second half. They would go up and crash the glass. Our box outs weren't very good - 26 offensive rebounds is bad. But, it was an unbelievable win, especially to come into this place with them being 11-1 at home. You will possibly see this (Kent State) team in the NCAA Tournament in a couple of weeks. They are talented. It was a great road win for us."
On the different runs in the game by both teams ...
"What a game of runs. We started off down by a lot in the first half. We fought our way back and built a good lead (in the second half). Andrew Lawrence's foul trouble put us in an awkward situation in the second half, but I'm really proud of our guys for finding a way. Nori (Johnson) was great tonight. I told him in the lockeroom, I think he is our Jeremy Lin. Nori could have given up this year, because he was behind in our rotation. He got an opportunity (after Anthony Stitt broke his hand against UNCG on Jan. 12) and he has played really well. He's playing with so much confidence and has been a weapon for us. I thought Antwaine (Wiggins) was tremendous tonight, especially when he had to handle the point guard position (with Lawrence fouling out). He is 6-foot-8 and didn't turn it over when he was playing the point. He got us into our offense and made his free throws down the stretch. He was our version of Magic Johnson out there tonight."
College of Charleston Sophomore Forward/Guard Nori Johnson
On the road win and playing in a hostile environment ...
"These kind of games are always memorable. When you play in this kind of environment, it got pretty loud in here when they starting to make a comeback (in the second half). You just soak it up and use it as fuel to keep it going. My teammates made some great plays and got me open tonight. Andrew Lawrence made a couple of great plays driving into the lane which freed it up for me. They locked on him early, which gave me more room to operate. I had an opportunity to knock down shots and that's what I did tonight."