College of Charleston hit 10 three-pointers and had five players score in double figures to defeat UNCG, 81-59, for its fourth-straight Southern Conference win on Saturday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (16-7, 8-3 SoCon), who are starting to find a groove in league play, avenged a regular-season series sweep by the Spartans (6-15, 4-6 SoCon) a year ago.
An energetic Homecoming crowd of 4,369 fans cheered the Cougars to victory as Charleston never trailed after a three-pointer in the second minute of the contest.
The Cougars outrebounded the opponents, 45-34, and held the Spartans to a season-low 32.7 (18-of-55) shooting percentage from the floor, including 14.3 percent (2-of-14) from three-point land. UNCG turned the ball over 13 times and managed just seven assists, while CofC flipped that script with 16 assists against 11 turnovers.
College of Charleston shot 42.1 percent (24-of-57) from the field and an impressive 47.6 percent from three-point land, hitting the second-most threes in a contest this season (10).
Senior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England) led the way offensively with 17 points and a game-high six assists. Lawrence hit four three-pointers and only turned the ball over once all game.
Junior big man Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.) recorded his first double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. He also extended his double-figure scoring streak to three games.
Redshirt-junior forward Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) nearly recorded a double-double himself as he scored 12 points and grabbed nine boards, including a season-high six offensive rebounds. Sophomore guard Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) each scored 10 points with Stitt adding four assists and Baru grabbing eight rebounds.
UNCG's Kayel Locke scored a game-high 21 points, while reigning SoCon Player of the Week Trevis Simpson was limited to a 4-of-12 shooting night as he registered 15 points. No other Spartan player reached double digits.
The Cougars jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first half after a three-pointer from Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.). Charleston extended the lead to 13 after Stitt netted a three-pointer and Wiedeman forced a defensive stop and scored a layup on the other end.
The Cougar defense kept the Spartans at bay for the rest of the half as the lead ballooned to 17 points, 36-19, after Stitt blocked a shot, fed the ball to Lawrence and got it right back for a layup in transition. UNCG ended the half on a 5-1 run to cut the margin to 37-24 at the intermission.
After a jumper from Simpson opened the second half, CofC went on an 11-0 run capped by a Wiedeman dunk to make the score, 46-28. The Spartans eventually pulled as close as 57-44, but foul trouble put the Cougars in the bonus with eight minutes left and CofC extended the lead from the free throw line.
Charleston hit 23 free throws in the game and the CofC defense shut down the outside shot in the second half to put away the 81-59 victory.
Up next, the Cougars will hit the road next week for an 8 p.m. (ET) game at Samford on Thursday, Feb. 7 in Birmingham, Ala. CofC will then travel to Chattanooga on Saturday, Feb. 9 for a 7:30 p.m. (ET) contest in Chattanooga, Tenn.
· For the 19th time this season, CofC used the starting lineup of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, redshirt junior Willis Hall and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (15-4).
· With the win, the Cougars take a 21-9 lead in the all-time series with UNCG. They avenged a regular-season series sweep by the Spartans a year ago.
· Andrew Lawrence led the team in scoring for the third consecutive game with a team-high 17 points along with a game-high six assists with just one turnover. He has tabulated 1,065 career points to date which currently ranks 28th all-time in the CofC record books.
· Junior forward Trent Wiedeman came off the bench and registered his 14th career double-double and first of the season with 14 points and a game-and season-high 12 rebounds.
· Willis Hall was just short of a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds versus UNCG. It marked his seventh double-figure scoring game of the season.
· Offensively, CofC scored its third-most points of the season with 81 and made its second-most three-pointers of the season with 10.
· The CofC defense held UNCG, who leads the SoCon in scoring offense (72.5 ppg), to its second-fewest points of the season (59) and lowest-shooting percentage from the floor (26.9 percent). The Cougars also held two of the top leading scorers in the league to under their average as Trevis Simpson (19.9 ppg) had only 15 points and Derrell Armstrong (15.4 ppg) eight.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game …
"It was really a good team win tonight – a long game. Ultimately, we shot the three well, really got on the glass and took care of the basketball. I thought Anthony Stitt and Nori Johnson did a phenomenal job on (Trevis) Simpson. He has been getting off 25 shots a game. They were so close around him to where he was not able to get even 20 shots up. Overall, we had five guys in double figures, scored 81 (points) and shot the three well. I'm thrilled we got win No. 16 and eight (wins) in the league. We are one of the best teams in the country to defend the three and one of the top defenses to not foul. Taking care of the basketball is the biggest key for us. Anthony and Andrew (Lawrence) have good chemistry which was evident with that back door (pass) tonight. There wasn't a lot of flow in the game and it was a frustrating game from the bench. The game got into two hours. We had a good lead and it didn't feel that way, because there was no flow in the game."
On the offense clicking …
"What coach wouldn't want a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and shoot 10-for-21 from three. But, every game is a new game and every day is a new day. It's a pleasure to score 81. Of course, we want to have good offense. Every day is a new day."
College of Charleston Senior Point Guard Andrew Lawrence
On the game …
"We shot the ball really well tonight. I'm really proud of my guys for stepping up and knocking down shots. For them, every shot was contested which makes it really tough to score. We did a great job of being there right on the catch. They have a big-time scorer – the leading scorer in our conference (in Trevis Simpson) – so we did a great job of cutting down on his shot attempts."
On the team's fourth-straight win …
"We're not in cruise control. We still have a long way to go and we're still working hard. It's good to keep improving every game and it feels like that's what we're doing. We're just going to keep improving on our chemistry."
College of Charleston Sophomore Guard Anthony Stitt
On the team's offense …
"Over the season, our offense has really evolved and it's been great for the team. Everyone is playing hard as we head towards the end of the conference season."
On the inside play of Trent Wiedeman and Willis Hall …
"Man, they played great tonight. Trent is a workhouse and Willis is a workhorse on the boards. When we're able to get second shots and limit them to one shot – that's a key part to our game. Willis had a great hustle play towards the end of the game that really gave us the momentum we needed to close the game out. Both of them were in double figures which is a boost for our team."