The College of Charleston men's basketball team went nearly perfect from the free throw line and made defensive stops to hold off Old Dominion, 51-44, in non-conference play held on Wednesday night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
The Cougars (5-6) have now won three of their last four games, while the Monarchs (4-7) dropped their sixth game in a row. Both teams struggled from field-goal range throughout the contest as CofC shot 37.0 percent (17-of-46) and ODU 31.4 percent (16-of-51).
After two ties in the first 11 minutes of regulation, Charleston took its first lead of the game on two made free throws by redshirt senior forward Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.), 14-12, with 7:58 on the clock in a slow-scoring first half.
Hall turned in game-high 14 points including a 5-for-5 performance from the charity stripe in which the Cougars' shot a season-best 92.9 percent (13-for-14). CofC led 23-18 at halftime.
In the second half, Hall was fouled on a made three-pointer and he converted the four-point play to push the Charleston lead out to nine, 27-18, at the 19:29 minute mark.
Senior Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) made his first start of the season and contributed 10 points and five rebounds including two offensive-rebound tip-ins in the second half after a four-minute dry spell for both teams in the scoring column.
Junior big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) ended the drought with a layup, 33-27, with 9:59 remaining in regulation.
ODU's Aaron Bacote cut the lead down to one on a transition three-pointer, 33-32, with 9:03 to go, but it was the closest the Monarchs would get as treys by junior Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) and redshirt freshman Canyon Barry (Colorado Springs, Colo.) in the final minutes sealed CofC's first road win of the season.
The Cougars will next host Kent State (8-2) in their final game prior to the winter holiday break on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 3 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. It will be part of a doubleheader with the CofC women's basketball team who will face South Florida prior at noon (ET). Tickets are available for purchase by calling the CofC Ticket Office at (843) 953-COFC.
· For the first time this season, the Cougars used the starting lineup of junior Anthony Stitt, freshman Johnathan Burroughs-Cook, senior Anthony Thomas, senior Willis Hall and junior Adjehi Baru (1-0). It marked the first career start for Burroughs-Cook and first of the season for Thomas who started in all 35 games last year as a junior.
· With the win, the Cougars take a 2-0 lead in the all-time series versus Old Dominion and pick up their first road win of the season.
· College of Charleston is now 2-0 this season and 32-15 all-time against opponents hailing from Conference USA (Charlotte and ODU).
· Willis Hall led all scorers with 14 points and added seven rebounds in 34 minutes of action. He has now turned in double figures in scoring in back-to-back games.
· Anthony Thomas registered a season-high 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor and also contributed five rebounds in his first start of the year.
· The Cougars swatted a season-high nine blocked shots behind a team-high four from Adjehi Baru.
· CofC shot a season-best 92.9 percent from the free throw line (13-for-14) including 6-for-6 in the first half of play and made 13 in a row against the Monarchs.
· Defensively, the Cougars held Old Dominion to 18 first-half points, the fewest points by an opponent this season in a half. They also held the Monarchs to a season-low 44 points – four fewer than their previous low of 48 points at VCU on Dec. 8.
· David Wishon returned to the lineup after sitting out the Marist game with an injury. He turned in a career-high seven rebounds and career-best three blocked shots in the winning cause.
"It was a hard-fought game, but neither team could shoot the basketball very well. They had lost five straight and we lost a really tough one against Marist at home the other night. It was a really good win for us. Sometimes you have to grind them out. Our guys did a great job at the free-throw line tonight. Anthony Thomas gets two offensive-rebound put backs. We rarely get outrebounded and we did tonight, but he got two big offensive rebounds. Canyon Barry hits what was essentially a game-winning three and I'm proud of that. Adjehi Baru made four big free throws and does a nice job for us down the stretch. Willis Hall is an incredible leader. He is one of the most special kids I have been around in 24 years of coaching as far as leadership, understanding and effort. He did a good job of keeping us together in the game. I give him a lot of credit. That's the best game of David Wishon's career. If we can continue to get that from him, it will really help us as we move forward. It was a Conference USA team and we have played two of them this year with Charlotte and now ODU. We are really happy and it's a nice road win for us."
On the team's defense …
"We guarded really well tonight. Half of the game is played on the defensive end and 50 percent of our effort tonight was fantastic. We had nine blocks. Anthony Stitt is a high-level defender. (Aaron) Bacote of ODU is not as big as (Chavaughn) Lewis of Marist and he did a great job on him. I thought we sucked the air out of them and then he (Bacote) hit the big three in transition. We withstood it and found a way. However, both teams have to shoot the ball better, bottom line."