College of Charleston dominated on the glass and shot over 50 percent from the field in the second half to take a 55-50 win over Wofford on Senior Night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (21-9, 13-4 SoCon) swept the regular-season series with Wofford (12-18, 6-11 SoCon) and finished the season with a 7-2 conference record at home.
Charleston never trailed in the second half and led by as many as 12 with under eight minutes remaining. The Cougars held a 44-27 edge in rebounds, and outshot the Terriers with a 46.7 percent mark from the floor. CofC did cough up 16 turnovers and only forced five, allowing Wofford to hang around until the end.
Senior Andrew Lawrence (London, England) scored 10 points and tallied eight rebounds and seven assists in his final home game. Senior walk-on Bart Benton (Monroe, Ga.) started the game and hit a three-pointer on the Cougars' first possession, his only made basket of the season. Senior Matt Sundberg (Kennesaw, Ga.) also earned a start in his final home game, grabbing one rebound and missing his only shot attempt.
Redshirt junior Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds and junior Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) scored nine points with six boards. Sophomore Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) accounted for seven rebounds and three blocks in the winning cause.
Wofford's Karl Cochran led all scorers with a game-high 23 points on 10-of-27 shooting. Spencer Collins scored eight points, while Lee Skinner had seven points and seven rebounds for the Terriers.
The Cougars built an eight-point lead at the 9:46 minute mark of the first half after a free throw from freshman Theo Johnson (Sacramento, Calif.). However, the Terriers went on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 15 and keep the score close for the rest of the half. A jumper by junior Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.) with under a minute left gave the Cougars a 24-22 halftime lead.
CofC opened the second half on a tear, netting two quick threes from Lawrence and junior Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.), and then Thomas had a put-back dunk to open an eight-point lead. Lawrence extended the lead to 34-24 with a fast break layup after a steal from Nori Johnson.
A three-pointer from Cochran at the 11:54 minute mark gave the home fans a scare as Wofford pulled to within four, 41-37, but Wiedeman responded with a layup and Lawrence hit a jumper to stretch the lead back out to 45-37.
Shots in the paint from Hall late in the game answered every Wofford run, and the Cougars made it to the final minute leading by several possessions and the eventual win.
CofC will close out the regular season at Furman (6-22, 3-14 SoCon) on Saturday, March 2 at 4 p.m. (ET) in Greenville, S.C. The Southern Conference Tournament begins on Friday, March 8 in Asheville, N.C., and the Cougars will have a first-round bye.
· For the first time this season, CofC went with the starting lineup of senior Andrew Lawrence, senior Bart Benton, junior Anthony Thomas, senior Matt Sundberg and sophomore Adjehi Baru (1-0). It marked the first career start for Benton, a walk-on playing on Senior Night, while Sundberg made his second start of the season and sixth of his career.
· Former head coach Bobby Cremins was on hand with head coach Doug Wojcik to honor the 2013 Senior Class of Lawrence, Benton and Sundberg – all of whom were recruited by Cremins – in a pre-game ceremony.
· With the win, the Cougars swept Wofford in the regular-season series for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign. The Terriers had won the last three games between the two South Division rivals prior to this season.
· Andrew Lawrence had a near triple-double with 10 points, a career-high tying eight rebounds and seven assists. His seven assists gives him 381 for his career which moved him into the top 10 all-time career assists list at CofC. Lawrence surpassed former Cougar great Ron Theis, who made 376 assists from 1972-76.
· Anthony Stitt missed the Wofford game being sidelined with a knee injury stemming from the Gardner-Webb game on Feb. 23. He is listed as day-to-day. He had played and started in all 29 games of the season averaging 10.8 points and 3.2 assists per contest.
· Bart Benton opened the game with a three-pointer at the 19:34 minute mark of the first half. It tied his career-high he last set against South Carolina State on Jan. 2, 2010 as a freshman.
· Defensively, the Cougars held Wofford to an opponent season-high tying 50 points which they also did against Vermont on Dec. 29 and at Wofford on Jan. 26. Both squads entered the ballgame as the two best teams in the SoCon in scoring defense.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game …
"It was a grinder win. We found out on Wednesday that Anthony Stitt was most likely not going to be able to play. We knew we were playing a team who statistically is the best defensive team in our league besides us. We knew it was going to be a grinder. (Wofford Head Coach) Mike Young has built his program on toughness and our kids always talk about how tough they were when they won those (SoCon) championships. Coming into the season, we lost three in a row to them. We knew it was going to be a tough one. We found a way to run into the locker room with a two-point lead without Andrew (Lawrence) scoring. It was a grinder. It was a Big Ten (type of) game tonight. We found ways to kind of break it loose in the second half. I thought Anthony Thomas and Theo Johnson both had big made three-pointers. I thought Nori Johnson, in Anthony Stitt's absence, did a nice job on the (Karl) Cochran kid. He is going to shoot it any way and got 27 clips off. I thought we did a good job of rebounding, because his long shots equal long rebounds – if we rebound the ball well."
College of Charleston Senior Point Guard Andrew Lawrence
On the made three-pointer by senior walk-on Bart Benton to open the game …
"He came in and gave us a good spark. That was a huge shot for him and a huge shot for the team. I couldn't be more proud of Bart."
On his final home game at TD Arena …
"It was a lot of fun. I try not to put too much on it. To me, it's just another game. I'm sad that I'm never going to play here again, but I've had four really good years here, so I have no complaints. I'm really happy with my guys and I'm really happy with that win today."
On the difference in the second half of play …
"We (Wofford and CofC) are two of the best defensive teams in the league. We hold people to a pretty low shooting percentage. Coming into the game, we knew it was going to be like this, but it shows that we can learn in a lot of different ways and a grind-out game isn't necessarily bad for us. I feel like we made more shots. In the first half, we were really struggling. We didn't move the ball well. We turned it over a lot. In the second half, we moved on and played a little bit more."
College of Charleston Junior Forward/Guard Nori Johnson
On the difference in the second half against Wofford …
"We really just pushed the ball. We didn't hit many shots in the first half, but they started falling in the second half. Andrew (Lawrence) did a good job of leading the team in transition. I think that was a big part in scoring points and getting things going in the second half."
On the loss of Anthony Stitt in the starting lineup …
"We were short-handed tonight. (Anthony) Stitt means a lot to our team, especially in a game like this. They have (Karl) Cochran who comes off screens and shoots a lot of shots. Stitt's really good at getting through those screens. Like (Andrew) said, ‘next man up' – that's been our motto. I think we did a pretty good job and everybody stepped up tonight in his absence."
Wofford Head Coach Mike Young
On the College of Charleston seniors and Andrew Lawrence …
"My hat goes off to those three seniors from Charleston. Andrew Lawrence has been a great player in this league for a long time and I admire that man immensely. He's been a dandy. In my opinion, he's the best point guard in this league."