Charleston Falls Short, 67-66, to Delaware in CAA Opener
Charleston, S.C. – Charleston Basketball fell just short in a tight battle at TD Arena on Friday afternoon, dropping its CAA opener to preseason-favorite Delaware, 67-66. The Cougars had the ball with a chance to win in the final seconds after clawing back to nearly erase a 10-point second-half deficit. Delaware got the stop, forcing a game-winning turnover to thwart CofC’s gritty comeback effort.
Friday’s New Year’s Eve clash with Delaware was neck-and-neck throughout, featuring 10 lead changes, 22 combined steals and 13 combined blocked shots. Charleston and Delaware both shot 45 percent from the field in an even contest, but the Blue Hens hit nine triples to CofC’s six.
Senior John Meeks returned from an injury in style, scoring 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and adding five boards in a gusty effort. Senior Osinachi Smart was dominant down low, securing his third career double-double and holding Delaware’s Dylan Painter to just six points.
After Delaware seized a 65-58 lead with 4:15 remaining, CofC closed on an 8-2 run. Smart’s putback bucket with 2:01 left pulled CofC within 67-65 and a free throw from Brenden Tucker sliced the deficit to one. The Cougars got a pair of stops to set up the last possession but couldn’t get over the hump in final seconds.
· Senior Osinachi Smart led CofC in rebounding for the second straight game, snatching 10 boards and scoring a season-best 11 points. He now has three career double-doubles.
· John Meeks reached double figures for the eighth time in 10 game appearances this season with 17 points off the bench.
· Junior Brenden Tucker finished with 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting, hitting 3-of-5 3-pointers.
· Senior Osinachi Smart recorded the first double-double by any Cougar this season.
· Senior Dimitrius Underwood collected four more steals on Friday and has a CAA-high 29 steals this season. Underwood has 3+ steals in five different games in 2021-22.
· CofC outrebounded Delaware 35-28, outpacing its opponent on the glass for the 11th time in 13 games.
The Cougars continue CAA play when they hit the road to face Northeastern on Monday, Jan. 3. Tip-off in Boston is set for 7 p.m. ET on FloSports.