College of Charleston turned in its fourth 20-win season in the last five years as it hung on for a 67-65 road victory at Western Carolina on Wednesday night at the Ramsey Center.
The Cougars (20-8, 12-4 SoCon) ended a three-game road losing streak in Cullowhee dating back to the 2007-08 campaign. They also picked up their 10th road win of the season and clinched a first-round bye in the upcoming 2013 Southern Conference Tournament on March 8-11 in Asheville, N.C.
Just like it did five years ago, this one would come down-to-the-wire as the Catamounts (11-17, 8-8 SoCon) cut a 12-point lead by the Cougars in the final two-minute stretch.
After being held to just two points in the first half, Western Carolina's Trey Sumler scored 12 of his 22 second-half points in the final minutes of regulation including a layup with four seconds left to tie up the ballgame at 65-all.
Senior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England) quickly dribbled the ball up the court and was fouled on the layup by Tom Tankelewicz with .06 seconds left in regulation.
Lawrence made the first free throw and WCU immediately used its last timeout. Lawrence would strategically miss his second free throw to disallow a better look for a half-court shot by Sumler, but was given two more extra free throws after lane violations were called on the Catamounts.
Junior forward Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.) led CofC in both the scoring and rebounding columns off the bench with his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) had a near double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Lawrence and sophomore guard Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) had 12 each.
The Cougars will next host Gardner-Webb (17-11) in an ESPN BracketBusters matchup on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 4 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena.
· For the 24th time this year, CofC used the starting lineup of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, redshirt junior Willis Hall and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (19-5).
· With the win, the Cougars now lead 18-7 in the all-time series with Western Carolina. It was their first victory on the road in Cullowhee since the 2007-08 season – also a two-point win (86-84) by CofC on Dec. 1, 2007.
· Junior forward Trent Wiedeman registered his 16th career double-double and third of the season with a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench against the Catamounts.
· CofC turned in its fourth 20-win season over the last five years and first under head coach Doug Wojcik. The Cougars are one of only 30 NCAA Division I schools to reach the 20-win mark this season. Wojcik also becomes the third consecutive first-year head coach of the Cougars to lead his team to 20 wins next to Tom Herrion (25-8 in 2002-03) and Bobby Cremins (22-11 in 2006-07).
· The Cougars (10-2) also recorded their 10th road win of the season which is tied for the most in the nation with Miami (10-1), Louisiana Tech (10-3), Bucknell (10-4), Stony Brook (10-5) and UT Arlington (10-3).
· For the 24th time this season out of 28 games, CofC outrebounded its opponent, 42-38 (+4).
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the win …
"We found a way to win tonight. We were playing for the (first-round tournament) bye, playing for a 20-win season and playing for a 10-win road season which is incredible. It was also our first road win here since 2007. We are still winning, even though we aren't closing out games. We can improve on that. We are not really shooting the ball well on the road, so we have room for improvement. We have three games left – two at home and one on the road."
On the end-game situation with the lane violations …
"The official warned (Trey) Sumler and then the next guy started (with the lane violations). They can technically do it twice until warned. He (Western Carolina Head Coach Larry Hunter) knew I was going to miss the free throw. Why not miss it and make it a tougher shot for Sumler than him heaving it from half court? We made it and Adjehi (Baru) made a nice play at the end (to block the last-second shot)."
College of Charleston Senior Point Guard Andrew Lawrence
On holding on for the win …
"I'm really proud of the guys and how we fought down the stretch. It was a really tough game. They came back and Trey Sumler hit a lot of big shots down the stretch. To get 10 wins on the road is unbelievable. I've never won in that gym, so it was a great road win for us."