CHARLESTON, SC - Despite seven lead changes and five ties in a heated-rivalry rematch, College of Charleston was able to hold on to a 55-47 victory over crosstown rival The Citadel in both team's final regular-season finale held Saturday afternoon at McAlister Field House.
The Cougars (19-11, 10-8) and Bulldogs (6-23, 3-15) rebounded from a low-scoring first half in which CofC struggled offensively and The Citadel started off on a 10-5 run.
Freshman Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) came off the bench and provided an offensive spark and ended the drought with a layup and two made free throws to give CofC its first lead, 11-10, at the 11:34 minute mark. Stitt and senior Antwaine Wiggins (Greenville, Tenn.) each led the Cougars with a team-high 12 points in the contest.
CofC turned up its defensive pressure in the second half, forcing the Bulldogs into eight turnovers in which the Cougars converted into 12 key points. A steal by junior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England) led to a Wiggins' dish to sophomore Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.) for the alley-oop dunk which shifted the momentum the Cougars' way, 34-28, with 12:27 on the clock.
CofC built its lead into double figures as Stitt was sent to the charity stripe and made both free throws, 45-35, with 3:47 left in regulation and never looked back.
Mike Groselle turned in a school-record 22nd double-double on the season with 14 points and 16 rebounds for The Citadel.
Both teams struggled from downtown as CofC went a season-low tying 3-of-19 from three-point range (15.8 percent) and The Citadel 2-of-13 (15.4 percent).
Up next, the Cougars will be the No. 4 South Division seed in the upcoming 2012 SoCon Tournament to be held on March 2-5 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C. CofC will take on No. 5 North Division seed Appalachian State (12-17) in the first round on Friday, March 2 at 11:30 a.m. (ET).
* For the 10th time this season, CofC went with the starting five of junior Andrew Lawrence, sophomore Nori Johnson, senior Antwaine Wiggins, sophomore Trent Wiedeman and freshman Adjehi Baru (6-4).
* With the victory, the Cougars improved to 49-39 in the all-time series with their crosstown rivals. CofC has now swept the regular-season series for the second consecutive year.
* The Cougars also turned in their fourth-straight 10-win campaign in Southern Conference play with 10-8 mark leading into the league postseason tournament.
* Antwaine Wiggins registered 12 points and five rebounds versus The Citadel and moved past former CofC great Tony Mitchell (1,280) for 14th all-time in career scoring (seventh-most in program's Division I history) with 1,290 career points to date and past Sedric Webber (694) for fourth all-time D-I in career rebounding with 697 career rebounds to date.
* Freshman Anthony Stitt played in only his second game since rejoining the team after sitting out 12 games with a broken left hand. He scored a team-leading 12 points which marked his seventh career double-figure game.
* CofC and The Citadel were tied at halftime with 21 first-half points each. It tied as the second-lowest points of the season in the first half next to 21 first-half points against Chattanooga on Dec. 3.
* The Cougars, who rank No. 30 nationally in three-point field goals made, shot a season-low 15.8 percent (3-of-19) from beyond the three-point arc tying a single-game season-low with just three three-pointers. They also scored a season-low 55 points against The Citadel.
College of Charleston Interim Head Coach Mark Byington
On the game ...
"In the second half, we got going with our defense. We got some steals and got some turnovers. Anthony Stitt had a couple of good steals and finished them. That play from Antwaine (Wiggins) to Trent (Wiedeman) was also a really big play for us. Right now, we are a defense first team. Defense is the strongest thing we do. We do a good job of having different pressures and having different styles. Right now, we are winning different types of games - going up against The Citadel, who wants to slow it down, and Kent State and Georgia Southern, who want to speed it up. We have been tested, we have learned a lot and we are prepared for the Southern Conference Tournament."
College of Charleston Senior Forward Antwaine
On the game ...
"We know every team in the conference is getting ready for the tournament, so we are trying to get in tournament mode ourselves - just play hard and take control of every possession, because that's how you win big games. It was challenging. They slow it down and we are used to speeding it up. You can't get into a groove like you want to. We started to press them in the second half and they would turn over the ball and we get points off their turnovers."
College of Charleston Freshman Guard Anthony Stitt
On the game ...