Cougars Sweep Elon In CAA Regular-Season Series
CHARLESTON, SC - College of Charleston men's basketball took down long-time conference rival Elon, 77-63, in Colonial Athletic Association play on Wednesday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (8-20, 3-12 CAA) enjoyed their best-shooting night of the season, finishing at a 56-percent clip on 27-of-48 from the floor.
CofC was led offensively by sophomore Canyon Barry (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who finished with a game-high tying 22 points on the night. Joining him in double figures was sophomore Joe Chealey (Orlando, Fla.), who dropped 16 points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double.
For the first time in his career, senior captain Pat Branin (Richmond, Va.) led the Cougars in assists with three and also scored five points, one shy of his career high.
Branin saw significant minutes due to foul trouble on the part of the Cougar guards and he contributed to a 19-6 CofC advantage in points off the bench.
The Cougars also produced wide advantages in rebounds (38-26) and points in the paint (28-10) as CofC dictated the battle under the basket.
Both teams found early success from beyond the arc, with the teams combining to make 3-of-4 which gave Elon (11-17, 3-14 CAA) a 9-5 edge in the opening minutes of play.
The Cougars responded with an 11-0 run and wouldn't trail again the rest of the way, forcing the Phoenix to go 0-for-5 and turn the ball over twice over a four-and-a-half-minute scoring drought leading up to the midway point of the first half.
At one point, the Cougars knocked down seven consecutive looks over a 9-of-10 stretch from the floor which included three pointers by Barry, Chealey and freshman Evan Bailey (Canton, Ohio).
Charleston forced Elon into another three-plus minute scoring drought until a made three-pointer around the six-minute mark by Tanner Samson, whose three-point shooting was the only thing preventing the Cougars from running away with the game. Samson had 17 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting at the break, before ultimately matching Barry's 22 points.
Samson made another three at the two-minute mark which cut the CofC lead to 32-30, but the Cougars kept the Phoenix off the board for the remainder of the half and a Barry three-pointer sent the Cougars into the locker room, 35-30, after CofC's season-best field-goal percentage in a half (65 percent, 15-of-23).
The College replicated the effort into the second half, opening on 5-of-6 shooting after the break and denying Elon a field goal for nearly seven minutes to lead by as many as 19.
The Phoenix mustered a 13-3 run to cut the lead back to single digits at the 5:21 point, but wouldn't score again for the next four minutes as CofC regained control.
The Cougars swept the regular-season series with first-year CAA member Elon. Both teams previously were conference rivals in the Southern Conference.
A two-game road swing is up next for CofC as it travels to James Madison for a Saturday, Feb. 21, rematch at 7 p.m. (ET) in Harrisonburg, Va. The game will be televised live nationally on Comcast SportsNet.
• For the first time this season, the Cougars went with the starting five of Joe Chealey, Cameron Johnson, Canyon Barry, Evan Bailey and Adjehi Baru (1-0). It marked Bailey's third career start next to Davidson on Dec. 20 and William & Mary on Jan. 3.
• With the win, College of Charleston claimed its 15th all-time win in the 20-game series with Elon (15-5) and swept the regular-season series with the first-year CAA member. The Cougars have now won four-straight in the series since a regular-season meeting when both schools were members of the Southern Conference in 2012-13. Elon is now 2-7 lifetime when playing on the road in Charleston.
• Canyon Barry registered his seventh career 20-point game with a game-high 22 points against Elon. It was one point shy of his season high of 23 scored at Elon on Jan. 14. Barry has now scored in double figures in 16 of the last 20 games of the season.
• Joe Chealey had a near double-double with 16 points and a game-high and career-high tying nine rebounds versus Elon. He extended his career-best double-digit scoring streak to seven games.
• Pat Branin came off the bench and contributed five points and dished out a career-best three assists in a career-high 11 minutes of action against Elon. He led the team in assists for the first time of his career.
• The Cougars shot a season-high 56.3 percent from the floor (27-of-48) versus the Phoenix. They previously shot 54.5 percent (24-of-44) in a win over William & Mary on Feb. 5. Their third-best percentage of the season (53.7%) was also against Elon on Jan. 14.
• CofC scored 77 points versus the Phoenix – its third-highest scoring production of the season.
• Defensively, the Cougars held Elon under its scoring average (70.5 ppg) and to 34.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc (9-for-26).
College of Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant
On the game …
"First of all, the credit goes to the players. The players made plays. With all that has gone on, in terms of losing so many close games and dealing with back-to-back losses and close losses throughout the season, especially in the last month – I give the credit to the players for showing so much character and fortitude in terms of bouncing back, coming out and playing with great spirit. The first five minutes of the game, gave me an early indication based on how they shared the ball. We were turning down good shots for great shots. We were very unselfish, making the extra pass and our defense got off to a good start. So, I just commend the players for bouncing back after a tough loss against Towson and coming out with so much spirit and energy tonight against Elon."
On Elon's defense allowing the team to attack offensively …
"They (Elon) really rotate hard when you drive it, but I just think it was maturity from our guys. Driving it down to the baseline instead of taking a tough shot, just stopping and skipping it across the court for their teammates. Sometimes, we would skip it across and make an extra pass to another guy, so it just was an emphasis of trying to share the ball and understanding that they were a good defensive team that rotates on drives. Instead of taking a tough two, we wanted to get an open rhythm shot and the guys did a great job of trying to execute that."
College of Charleston Senior Guard Pat Branin
On being able to contribute off the bench for the team win …
"I was lucky earlier in the year with (Anthony) Stitt's injury. It wasn't a good thing for our team, but it gave me an opportunity to get some experience and playing time in crucial minutes. Tonight, I just looked to come into the game, play my role on the team, play some good defense, distribute the ball and take shots when I was open. The previous playing time definitely helped. Before that, I was not able to play a whole lot of crucial minutes. But, the time I had earlier in the year, definitely helped with my confidence coming into this game."
College of Charleston Sophomore Guard Canyon Barry
On the game …
"Anytime you get a win, it feels good. We are definitely going to build on this, keep our energy up and try to keep working and getting ready for the next game. It was a good team win tonight. We had a lot of people contribute. When Joe Chealey has nine rebounds – he has a great game. I was able to score the ball well. My teammates got me the ball in good positions. We were able to make shots. We had senior captain Pat Branin step-up, knock down a couple of buckets, make a few assists, so it was a good team win tonight. It's all we can do at this point in the season and focus on the next game and get better and be ready for tournament play.
On defending and being successful against Elon this season …
"We defended Elon pretty well. Obviously, we didn't do too good of a job on (Tanner) Samson tonight. He got too many open looks. But other than that, we defended the motion well and we were able to make shots."