Sophomore Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) scored a season-high 22 points as the College of Charleston rolled over Coastal Carolina, 60-51, in non-conference holiday basketball action held on Saturday afternoon at TD Arena.
The Cougars (7-4) put together back-to-back home wins after defeating Old Dominion on Dec. 18. Coastal Carolina (4-6), who were just three days removed from a 23-point victory over Clemson on Dec. 19, never led in the contest and trailed by as many as 22 points late in the second half of play.
Charleston's defense limited Coastal Carolina to 38.3 percent shooting (18-of-47) and outrebounded the Chanticleers, 37-28.
Stitt's 22 points were due to effective outside shooting as he hit three three-pointers and made aggressive moves in the lane. Stitt knocked down a career-high seven free throws on nine attempts and shot 66.6 percent from the floor. He also dished out a season-high seven assists and had a steal.
Redshirt junior Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) played well in the paint, snatching a game-high four offensive rebounds and scoring eight points. He helped CofC hold an 11-6 edge in second-chance points.
Junior reserve Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.) had eight points with two treys, and senior Andrew Lawrence (London, England) tallied seven points, three assists and three steals. Sophomore big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) tied a career high with three blocks to go along with five boards and four points.
The Chanticleers were paced by Kierre Greenwood's 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor. El Hadji Ndieguene scored 14 points and had three rebounds. Big South Conference leading scorer Anthony Raffa and sophomore starting guard Warren Gillis were both held to zero points in the game.
Neither team was especially efficient at the beginning of the game as both squads went nearly five minutes without scoring from the 17:10 minute mark to 12:22. Three-pointers from Stitt and Lawrence built a nine-point CofC lead at 15-6 with 10:10 remaining in the half. Coastal cut the lead to six points (18-12) after an elbow jumper from Ndieguene with 7:01 remaining.
However, the Cougars clamped down on defense and allowed just three points over the next six minutes. Greenwood and Ndieguene each hit shots in the final minute to cut the Cougars' lead to 26-19 at halftime.
CofC pulled away in the second frame thanks to five three-pointers that punctured the Chanticleer zone. A trey from Nori Johnson put CofC up 37-25, and then Stitt hit three free throws on a fouled trey and then knocked down a three-pointer to extend the Cougar lead to 16 points at the 9:11 minute mark.
Another Stitt three-pointer with 3:44 remaining helped put the game away as the Cougars took a commanding 58-36 advantage. The Cougar bench was only able to manage two points the rest of the way, and the Chanticleers were able to chip off the final margin.
After the holiday break, the Cougars will travel north to face Vermont and Marist on a pre-New Year's road trip to the New England area. The game at Vermont will be held on Dec. 29 at 2 p.m. (ET) and at Marist on Dec. 31 at 4 p.m. (ET). Both can be heard live on the College of Charleston Radio Network on ESPN 910 AM in Charleston.
· For the seventh time this season, the Cougars went with the starting five of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, redshirt junior Willis Hall and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (6-1).
· With the win, CofC now leads 34-12 in the all-time series with Coastal Carolina and has won the last three-straight meetings between the two in-state, coastal schools.
· Anthony Stitt recorded a season-high 22 points just one point shy of his career high. It marked his third 20-point game of his career. He also dished out a season-and game-high seven assists with one turnover.
· The Cougars outrebounded the Chanticleers, 37-28. It marked the ninth time this season out of 11 contests CofC won the rebounding battle.
· Junior Nori Johnson came off the bench and contributed eight points and three rebounds in only 14 minutes of action.
· Junior Trent Wiedeman did not play against Coastal Carolina sidelined with an ankle sprain suffered in the Old Dominion game on Dec. 18.
· The CofC defense held Coastal to its second-fewest first-half points of the season with 19 first-half points and 20.0 percent (2-of-10) shooting from beyond the arc. The Cougars also held leading scorer Anthony Raffa to zero points in the contest. Raffa is currently the Big South Conference's top scoring leader and was ranked among the top 10 NCAA scoring leaders coming into the game averaging 20.9 points per game.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game …
"It was a really good win for us, especially leading into Christmas. I thought our crowd was phenomenal for the Saturday prior to Christmas. It's really exciting for me to see the excitement for Cougar Basketball in this town. Most teams who are playing today around the country, there's probably no fans in the stands. I thank our fans for their support today. It was not a really great offensive output for us and I apologize for that. I'm really not that bad of an offensive coach. We didn't shoot it too well. Give them credit, they (Coastal Carolina) slowed the game down by putting their press on us and we couldn't run. They played a triangle-and-two on Anthony Stitt and Andrew Lawrence, so that kind of threw us off a little. We knew it was coming and haven't played against it a whole lot. Overall, it was a great defensive effort and great team win for us."
On the team's offensive rebounding …
"How many balls did we get slapped out of our hands near the basket whether on offense or defense? We lost a lot of balls near the basket. Give them credit for having quick hands. They had eight steals. For the most part, we didn't score, because we didn't convert near the basket. Two games in a row, Old Dominion and Coastal came in averaging 16 and 15 offensive rebounds a game and we hold both teams to nine offensive rebounds a game. It was a phenomenal job on (Kierre) Greenwood – what we call, ‘corralling him and keeping two guys defending him in transition off of those ball screens.' Our guys did a great job with it today."
College of Charleston Sophomore Guard Anthony Stitt
On the team's defense against Coastal ..
"We knew that they had two senior guards and that they were the heart and soul of the team, so we just focused on stopping them. We figured if we locked them down they couldn't function, so we just tried to minimize their looks so the other people had to beat us. I think we did a good job of that today."
College of Charleston Junior Guard/Forward Nori Johnson
On the win and his contributions off the bench …
"Things have definitely gotten better since the Anderson game. We're taking a lot more pride in the little things and tonight I got a couple of threes to fall. I couldn't get them to fall in the first half, but (Anthony) Stitt did a good job of penetrating the defense and finding me and I knocked some down."
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Cliff Ellis
On the game …
"First commend College of Charleston. They did everything they needed to do to make it difficult in the game for us. The difference was their offensive rebounding. Those second shots kept giving them that edge along with (Anthony) Stitt's three-point shots. He was the X-factor, because defensively, we shut down (Andrew) Lawrence and (Adjehi) Baru. It was the physical aggressiveness by College of Charleston that led them to those second and third shots. They were the more physical team today. I like this College of Charleston team. We were the more physical team on Wednesday night (against Clemson) and today we were not."