CofC Runs Away From The Citadel, 72-48, In Rivalry Game
CHARLESTON, SC -
College of Charleston ran away from The Citadel with a second-half outburst, defeating the crosstown rivals, 72-48, on Sunday afternoon.
The win marked College of Charleston's (6-7) 500th program win since moving to Division I in the 1991-92 season. It was also the seventh-straight win over The Citadel (4-10) in a rivalry in which CofC has retaken control.
College of Charleston's defense and rebounding, its calling card all season, was once again in full effect at The Citadel's McAlister Field House. The Cougars outrebounded the Bulldogs, 54-42, with 17 offensive boards. The Cougars forced 11 turnovers and held Citadel to 30.2 percent shooting (19-of-63). College of Charleston held the Bulldogs without a point for the first 8:35 of the game, as Citadel shot 0-for-13 before hitting a three-pointer.
Despite holding just a 34-27 lead at halftime, the Cougars outscored the Bulldogs by 17 points in the second half en route to the victory.
Senior Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) put an exclamation point on a strong December with his second double-double in the past four games, third of the season. He tallied 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a 7-of-11 shooting day. Junior Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) ran the offense with aplomb, dishing a season-high five assists against just two turnovers, while scoring 14 points.
The storyline of CofC's second half came in the form of senior Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.). The wingman came off the bench to drop in four three-pointers for a season-high 12 points. Johnson finished 4-of-7 from behind the line with a fifth trey going all the way in before rolling out.
Junior big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) continued his consistent strong play in the paint, tallying his sixth double-figure scoring game and his fourth in a row, with 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Citadel's Ashton Moore led the Bulldogs with 15 points, while Brian White threw in 11 points to go with eight boards. Quinton Marshall scored nine points, but his game-high four turnovers proved costly.
College of Charleston excited the announced crowd of 2,803, which seemed to favor the Cougars in overall distribution, with a strong defensive presence to start the game. The Cougars pounded the paint and got the Bulldogs in foul trouble, while CofC's defense forced turnovers and missed shots on The Citadel's end of the court. It wasn't until the 11:25 mark of the first half, when Dylen Setzekorn hit a corner three, that The Citadel finally hit a field goal.
However, CofC's offense then went cold as open looks continued to rim out and The Citadel found its scoring rhythm in the first half. A layup from Moore cut Charleston's lead to 21-19 at the 5:47 mark, and another layup by Marshall Harris III cut the lead to two again at 2:48. Charleston finished the half on an 8-3 run, capped by a jumper from Stitt with time expiring to rebuild a halftime lead of 34-27.
The Cougars raced ahead of the Bulldogs in the second half thanks to dagger treys from Johnson on the wings. He hit three consecutive three-pointers over the course of three minutes to give CofC a 50-31 lead at the 12:59 mark. A three-pointer and layup from Hall helped put the game away with just under six minutes left with Charleston holding its largest lead to that point at 63-40.
The Cougar reserves were able to see the court in the final minutes and freshman Glen Pierre Jr. (Orlando, Fla.) scored his first career points with a late jumper, pushing Charleston to the 72-48 victory.
The Cougars will play another old rival in a new setting on Jan. 1 as CofC travels up to Davidson to face the Wildcats in a non-conference game at 2 p.m. That game will be televised locally on MyTV Charleston and regionally on CSS.
College of Charleston went with the starting lineup of Adjehi Baru, Anthony Thomas, Canyon Barry, Anthony Stitt and Willis Hall for the first time this season.
The win was a milestone victory for College of Charleston as the Cougars have now won 500 games as a Division I program, dating back to 1991-92.
CofC continued to assert its dominance in the series against The Citadel. The Cougars have won seven games in a row and hold an all-time series lead 52-39. Sunday's 24-point victory was the first margin of victory over 20 points for either team dating back to 2/17/11 when College of Charleston defeated the Bulldogs, 85-63.
College of Charleston led the game at halftime, 34-27. The Cougars are 6-0 this season when leading at the intermission.
The Cougars held the Bulldogs scoreless for the first 8:35 of the game, the longest defensive stand to start a game this season. The Citadel opened the game shooting 0-for-13 from the field.
Willis Hall tallied his third double-double of the season and second in the past four games. He averaged 12.0 points and 10.8 rebounds in the month of December.
Nori Johnson came off the bench to hit four three-pointers in the second half for a season-high 12 points. He joined Joe Chealey and Anthony Stitt as the only players to hit four or more threes in a game this season.
Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the play of Nori Johnson…
"We were waiting for that to happen. Nori (Johnson) really freed things up for us. I'm glad he's here and playing with us. He's a better person for sitting there and getting through the first semester. If he can continue to do that for us, that really makes us a better team. Eventually Johnathan (Burroughs-Cook) is going to make those shots. Canyon (Barry) is going to make them. We didn't shoot that great today, but I'll take it. We really needed some threes to go in for us."
On the rivalry with The Citadel…
"I'm a pro-Citadel guy. I have a Navy ring on right now. I respect those kids a lot and Chuck (Driesell) is my friend. We've played 91 times. I'm hoping we can find better dates for this rivalry, to some degree. It's tough with the preseason tournaments and then you're into finals. But we'll keep working on the dates."
"I've been in some great rivalries in my career. It's really important to win that game. This rivalry is similar to the one at Tulsa with Oral Roberts. At times, you feel like you have to win the game. I think it's really important to win rivalry games and it's really important to win on the road."
On the play of Anthony Stitt…
"He had an unbelievable game. He called good plays. He's demanding from his teammates to defend. I think that Cook got some mojo off of Anthony today. When The Citadel went 1-3-1 (zone) on us, they both penetrated and kicked to the corner for open shots. Canyon (Barry) didn't score much, but he played a really good floor game."
Senior Nori Johnson
On his play today…
"We've put an emphasis on making shots during practice and we prepared very well for this game. That gave me the confidence that I needed to go in. I knew that I'd have the opportunity and I wanted to go out and make the most of it. It felt good. I knew I could help my team, and I'm glad I could do it. I hope that I can provide a spark like I did today in the second half."
Senior Willis Hall
On the team's outside shooting…
"We've always known Nori (Johnson) had a great outside stroke. He got an opportunity today and he took advantage of it. I hit a couple of long shots, but he was spectacular. That was the difference in that second half. After we were grinding it out in the first half, those threes really broke it open and that was the difference for us."
"When you make shots, it makes things a lot easier. We've watched film and seen that we're not taking bad shots. We just have to knock down open ones. It helps when you hit those shots. Adjehi (Baru) got a little more room in the post, when we're all out there with deep threats on the perimeter. It gives everyone a little more opportunity to make plays."
On Citadel rallying after starting 0-13 from the field…
"We never thought it was going to be easy. We kept talking about staying on task, staying on point and sticking to our principles in each huddle. We usually do a good job of that defensively. Sometimes offensively we get a little bit careless. But fortunately today we were on top of things."