Last season, The Citadel men's basketball team averaged 89.9 points per game, leading all of NCAA Division I in the statistic, and eclipsed the 100-point mark in nine contests. Before the 2017-18 season, head coach Duggar Baucom challenged his young squad to surpass that by scoring more and playing at a faster rate.
In Friday afternoon's season opener at home against Oglethorpe (0-1), the Bulldogs (1-0) seemed to take those challenges to heart as they cruised to a 109-73 victory, including 70 first half points, inside McAlister Field House.
"I was pleased overall. I hate the lull we had the first seven minutes of the second half, but when you're up by 30, that can happen," Baucom said. "But we got adjusted and shared the ball very well. We had 27 assists on 41 makes, so you have to love that. Then Preston was extremely efficient, 7-of-10 and 5-of-6 from three and most importantly, he had seven rebounds. So I was very pleased with the game overall."
After racing out to a 70-37 lead in the opening stanza, including closing out the first half on a 20-7 run in the final 5:55, the Bulldogs struggled in the opening seven minutes of the second half. During that first stretch of the half, The Citadel scored just two points off a Preston Parks tip-in less than a minute into the half.
From there, the Stormy Petrels went on a 10-0 run to narrow the gap slightly, but another Parks layup at the 12:33 mark seemed to light the offensive spark again.
Parks and junior Matt Frierson combined to score all of the Bulldogs' 14 points for a stretch of nearly four minutes in the middle of the second half with Frierson converting two of his game-high six three-pointers to help rebuild the Bulldogs lead.
Overall in the game, the Bulldogs shot 47.1% (41-of-87) from the field, including a blistering 59.1% (26-of-44) in the first half, and 44.7% (21-of-47) for the game from three-point range. The Stormy Petrels shot 40.3% (29-of-72) from the field for the game, but 25 turnovers hampered their efforts at the upset.
Parks ended the afternoon with a game-high 21 points off 7-for-10 shooting, including five three-pointers. It was the 16th game of his career that Parks netted at least 20 points. It was the first time since Jan. 19, 2017, that Parks had at least five treys. The sophomore added seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Frierson finished the game with 18 points, all off six three-pointers (6-of-9), and was just one trey shy of his career-high of seven set last season against Johnson on Nov. 13, 2016. He also added two assists and a pair of steals.
Behind Parks and Frierson, freshmen Tariq Simmons and Kaiden Rice each netted their first double-digit outings as collegiate players. Simmons just missed out on a double-double as he scored 18 points off the bench and set up eight assists. Rice added 12 points in 13 minutes of work.
The Bulldogs received 69 points from the bench compared to 25 by Oglethorpe.
Will Perry led the way for the Stormy Petrels as he converted nine field goals and a pair of free throws for 21 points. Devin Huffman chipped in 11 points and Connor Smith added 10.
-per The Citadel Athletics