Senior Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.) scored a game-high 25 points including a clutch three-pointer that got College of Charleston within two with 14.5 seconds remaining in regulation, but it wasn't enough as Hofstra hung on for the 75-71 win on Saturday night at the Mack Sports Complex.
As the newest member of the Colonial Athletic Association, the Cougars (9-8, 1-1 CAA) were looking to pick up their first-ever league road victory, while the Pride (5-11, 1-1 CAA) snapped CofC's four-game win streak and ended their own three-game skid.
It was a game of runs as Hofstra began the game on a 6-0 stretch, before Johnson came off the bench and knocked down threes to stretch the CofC lead out to as many as 14 points with 3:42 in the first half of play, 35-21. He hit four in that half and went a career-best 7-of-11 from beyond the arc for the game.
The Pride cut that lead down to four before halftime on four free throws and back-to-back three-pointers by the CAA's second-leading scorer in Zeke Upshaw, 38-34.
Junior big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) started the second half with a slam dunk as CofC built another double-digit lead with a three-pointer by junior Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) and two treys from Johnson, 49-39, with 16:27 on the clock.
Foul trouble plagued the Cougars as four players fouled out of the game and Hofstra kept in striking distance with its made free throws. The Pride went 32-for-48 from the foul line and took their first lead of the contest after four ties as Stephen Nwaukoni went 1-for-2 with 1:17 left to go, 66-65.
A three-pointer by Stitt cut it to one, 69-68, with 59 seconds, but Upshaw would counter with a jumper and Nwaukoni was sent to the charity stripe again. Johnson hit his last-second three to get the Cougars within two, 73-71, but more fouls and free throws ended the comeback effort.
In the loss, Stitt turned in his first career double-double with 17 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. He also dished out seven assists. Baru ended the night with 13 points and five rebounds. Meanwhile, Upshaw led four Hofstra players in double figures with 22.
The Cougars will continue their CAA road swing traveling to Northeastern (4-12, 1-1) for a nationally-televised game on the NBC Sports Network on Monday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. (ET) in Boston, Mass.
· For the fifth time this year, the Cougars used the starting lineup of junior guard Anthony Stitt, freshman guard Johnathan Burroughs-Cook, senior small forward Anthony Thomas, graduate senior forward Willis Hall and junior forward Adjehi Baru (3-2).
· It was a first-time meeting for College of Charleston and Hofstra. The Pride take a 1-0 lead in the all-time series and both teams will see each other again in CAA action on Feb. 1 in Charleston.
· Senior reserve Nori Johnson knocked down a season-and game-high 25 points off the bench including a career-best outing from beyond the arc (7-of-11 three-pointers). It marked his second career 20-point game.
· Anthony Stitt grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds including nine on the defensive end. It marked his first career double-figure rebounding effort. He recorded his first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He was three assists short of a triple-double with a game-high seven assists with just three turnovers.
· The Cougars have now drained 10-or-more three-pointers in back-to-back games and for the fourth time this season with 11 at Hofstra.
· Hofstra shot an opponent season-high from the free throw line with 32 makes on 48 attempts.
· CofC had nearly 150+ alumni, supporters and prospective students of the 1,628 announced crowd.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the loss …
"We gave up the lead and yet we survived the first half with all kinds of foul trouble. I'm thankful we didn't play the guys who had two fouls, because they would've had three fouls if I didn't take them out of the game. We had a run and a 14-point lead. They cut it to four and we get it back up to 10 in the second half. We just didn't convert. Bottom line, I can live with getting outrebounded, because they are a very good rebounding team and are very physical. We made more field goals, made more threes and had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. We got beat from the free throw line tonight (32-of-48)."
On the continued great play by Nori Johnson …
"Just incredible. He's making shots and even the one late that pulls us within two. It was an incredible shot (a three-pointer with 15 seconds left in regulation). Anthony Stitt played a heck of a game. He gets a double-double and nine of our 20 defensive rebounds amongst the rest of the guys on our team that combined for 11. He played great. It was a tough loss to take tonight."
College of Charleston Senior Guard/Forward Nori Johnson
On the loss …
"We could've guarded the ball better. They drove us and we got into foul trouble. We had four guys foul out including me. We just have to guard the ball better. That was the biggest difference in the game tonight. We are a good road team. We hang our hat on playing defense and winning on the road. We have to take this loss and let it be a learning experience heading into the next road game at Northeastern."