College of Charleston used white-hot shooting in the second half to pull away and defeat CAA opponent Old Dominion, 76-65, in non-conference action held on Tuesday night at TD Arena.
The win was a big momentum boost for the Cougars (6-4) who rebounded from back-to-back home losses with a win over the Monarchs (1-10).
Despite being tied at halftime, 28-28, CofC opened the second half hitting the first six shots, including a trio of three-pointers, to build a 45-34 lead and the Cougars never looked back. Charleston finished the game shooting 53.1 percent from the field (26-of-49), including 40 percent from three-point land.
The Monarchs shot 46.3 percent (25-of-54) from the field and outrebounded the Cougars, 31-29. The difference was ultimately in three-point shooting where Charleston held an 8-3 advantage in three-pointers made.
Sophomore big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) led the team with a career-high 20 points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting night from the floor to go along with a game-high nine rebounds. A number of Baru's baskets were thunderous dunks that excited the crowd as the Cougars opened up the game in the second half.
Senior Andrew Lawrence (London, England) made his return to the floor after getting banged up against Louisville on Dec. 4. Lawrence scored 17 points, dished six assists and tied a career high with five steals. His pressure defense and transition aggressiveness helped the Cougars convert 13 ODU turnovers into 22 points.
Junior Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) had a break-out game with a career-high 13 points, four assists and three blocks. Junior Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.) also made his return to the lineup after missing six games by contributing seven points. Redshirt junior Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) also grabbed seven rebounds and scored six points.
Four players scored in double figures for the Monarchs, led by DeShawn Painter's 15 points and seven rebounds. Donte Hill recorded 11 points and five assists, while Keenan Palmore and Deion Clark each had 10.
The first half featured five ties and 12 lead changes as neither team could build a sizable lead. ODU led by as many as five after a jumper from Painter put the Monarchs up 17-12. A tip-in from freshman Theo Johnson (Sacramento, Calif.) and a three-pointer from sophomore Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) quickly knotted the game back up at 17 with 7:46 remaining.
Old Dominion's Palmore hit a layup with 45 seconds remaining to give the Monarchs a two-point lead, but Lawrence intercepted a pass with seconds ticking away and was fouled at the rim as the half ended. His two free throws tied the score at 28 at the intermission.
CofC came out firing in the second half, hitting the first six consecutive shots including two three-pointers from Thomas and one from Andrew Lawrence. A reverse layup from Wiedeman at the 15:37 minute mark ignited the crowd and gave the Cougars their largest lead, 45-34.
The Monarchs responded with an 8-0 run of their own to cut the lead down to 45-42, but two free throws from Lawrence and three-pointers from junior Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.) and Stitt quickly pushed the lead back to double digits. The Cougars would lead by as many as 20 points after Hall grabbed an offensive rebound and got a put back at the 5:07 minute mark.
The Cougars will next host Coastal Carolina in their final game before the holiday break on Saturday, Dec. 22, at noon (ET) at TD Arena. The game will be televised live locally on MyTV Charleston and carried nationally on ESPN3 via WatchESPN.com.
· For the sixth time this season, the Cougars used the starting lineup of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, redshirt junior Willis Hall and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (5-1). Lawrence returned to the lineup after missing the Anderson game recovering from a minor ankle injury.
· With the win, CofC now leads 1-0 in the all-time series against Old Dominion and went 2-0 versus Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) opponents in non-conference play this season. The Cougars will join its new league on July 1, 2013.
· The Cougars turned in their second-highest field-goal percentage of the season shooting 53.1 percent (26-of-49) for the game and 61.5 percent in the second half.
· CofC also cut down on its miscues with their third-fewest turnovers of the season (15) against ODU.
· Adjehi Baru was just short of another double-double with a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds. He shot a career-high 8-of-8 from the floor and improve 4-for-5 from the free throw line. Baru is currently on a career-best three-game double-digit scoring streak. He is only the second CofC player this season to turn in a 20-point game next to Andrew Lawrence.
· Anthony Thomas also turned in career-highs in points (13) and blocked shots (3) against the Monarchs.
· After missing the last six games of the season recovering from an ankle injury against Auburn on Nov. 16, junior forward Trent Wiedeman made his return checking into the lineup at the 17:27 minute mark of the first half. He ended the night with seven points in 18 minutes of action.
· Andrew Lawrence had a career-high tying five steals against the Monarchs in his return after missing the Anderson game with a minor ankle injury from the Louisville game on Dec. 4. He recorded his 300th career assist with six assists for a total of 303 to date.
· ODU was only the second opponent this season, next to Louisville, to outrebound CofC, 31-29 (-2). The Monarchs came into the game as the No. 58-ranked team in the country in rebounds per game (38.9).
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game …
"It was a really great second half for us tonight. I want to thank our fan base and crowd tonight, especially with the Christmas holidays around the corner. We had a great fan turn out. We had a great environment and our guys really responded. We attacked multiple defenses. They played a two-three zone, a match-up zone and they played their man (defense). We battled bigger guys. It really helps to have a guy like Andrew Lawrence. Good players make good coaches."
On ODU's defense …
"They played us man right off the bat. If we can run our man stuff pretty effectively, we can score. It was a really good performance for us across the board. You have to give Adjehi (Baru) tremendous credit. Tonight he made his free throws and was 8-of-8 from the field. He had a great game. With all of those feeds in the paint, we had a positive assistant-to-turnover ratio tonight."
On getting a win at home …
"We haven't been a great home team. Sometimes, I feel like my team is more relaxed on the road. We have been a great road team. It was a great opportunity to schedule two CAA teams (Towson and ODU) this season. In both games, we scored 75 and 76. It's a nice little boost for us, as we head into the Colonial next year."
College of Charleston Senior Point Guard Andrew Lawrence
On the game …
"We all came together. I'm really proud of everyone, especially Adjehi (Baru) for scoring a career high and playing like a beast out there. I felt like every time he had the ball, he was scoring."
College of Charleston Sophomore Forward Adjehi Baru
On the win …
"I'm really happy, because everyone came together tonight. We needed that win. We needed it for everybody – for our team and for our coach to recover from those two bad losses (against Louisville and Anderson University)."
Old Dominion Head Coach Blaine Taylor
On the game …
"I was pretty unhappy at halftime to be tied 28-28. We really felt like we could take the lead into the locker room. Coming out of the locker room, they made some threes and made some moves. They played good offense and made shots, so give them credit. We are not strong defensively to win this game. We do not seize the moment at times. This is a very unique season we have been dealing with. There are better times ahead hopefully. It's not a lot of fun what we are going through. We beefed up the schedule with a young team. It's been an uphill battle every day and every game. We battle though. We had 12 steals and the advantage in the rebound margin tonight. We have a group of guys who are trying. We just aren't quite experienced and consistent enough to be able to overcome the competition."