CHARLESTON, S.C. - Three players scored in double figures to lead NCAA Division II Anderson (S.C.) University to a 65-49 rout of College of Charleston on Thursday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (5-4) struggled offensively throughout the game as the Trojans (7-2) shot 45.9 percent (28-of-61) from the field and held CofC to a season-low 33.3 field-goal percentage (16-of-48). The defeat marked the first to a non-Division I opponent since a 70-67 loss to Belmont Abbey on Dec. 8, 2001, under former CofC head coach John Kresse.
Playing without two preseason All-Southern Conference performers in starting senior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England) and junior forward Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.), the Cougars turned the ball over 19 times against the Anderson defense, and only hit 11 free throws despite 21 trips to the line.
However, the Cougars outrebounded Anderson, 39-32, grabbing 18 on the offensive end.
CofC was led by another double-double performance from sophomore big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast), who tallied 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. It was Baru's second-straight double-double and fourth game with 10-or-more rebounds this season.
Junior reserve Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.) scored 10 points with two three-pointers, and senior Matt Sundberg (Kennesaw, Ga.) tallied nine points and five rebounds in his fifth career start.
The Trojans' Chandler Hash led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-7 from three-point land. Denzail Jones scored 17 points and former Citadel player Bo Holston tallied 11.
CofC's only lead of the game came courtesy of Sundberg, who hit a three-pointer at the 17:21 minute mark of the first half, 3-2. The Trojans led by as many as 16 at the 7:16 minute mark, before Charleston started chipping away before the break.
Freshman Theo Johnson (Sacramento, Calif.) hit a three-pointer with 1:07 left on the clock and Baru slammed home an alley-oop pass from sophomore Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) to cut the lead to just 35-30. However, the Trojans made a tip-in as time expired to lead 37-30 at halftime.
The Cougars' offensive fire slowed in the first 10 minutes of the second half, as Charleston managed just six points and two field goals and fell behind 49-36. The Trojans continued to extend the lead, eventually going up 59-38 with only 5:46 left in regulation. The Cougars shot just 6-of-28 from the field and 6-of-13 from the free throw line in the second half, allowing Anderson to pull away for good.
CofC continues its post-final exams homestand with Old Dominion on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. The game will be televised on the Southern Conference Network via ESPN3 and WatchESPN.com.
For the first time this season, the Cougars used the starting lineup of sophomore Anthony Stitt, junior Anthony Thomas, senior Matt Sundberg, junior Willis Hall and sophomore Adjehi Baru (0-1). It marked the fifth career start for Sundberg as senior starter Andrew Lawrence did not suit up for the game due to a minor-ankle injury he suffered against Louisville on Dec. 4.
In the first-ever meeting between the two schools, Anderson handed CofC its first loss to a non-Division I opponent since a 70-67 (-3) loss to Belmont Abbey under former CofC head coach John Kresse on Dec. 8, 2001 at John Kresse Arena.
It also marked the first time the Cougars lost in double figures to a pair of non-conference opponents in back-to-back games next to a 55-94 (-39) road loss at Clemson on Dec. 19, 2009 and a 71-84 (-13) setback at Hawai'i on Dec. 22, 2009, under former CofC head coach Bobby Cremins.
Adjehi Baru recorded his third career double-double, his second of the season, with a team-high 11 points and game-high 14 rebounds. It also marked the first time in his career to score in double figures in back-to-back games against No. 5-ranked Louisville and Anderson. He has now brought down double-figure boards in six career contests.
The Cougars were held to their lowest field-goal shooting performance of the season going 16-of-48 from the floor (33.3%). They previously shot 34.8 percent versus Louisville.
Junior reserve Nori Johnson came off the bench and contributed 10 points to mark his ninth career game in double figures.
CofC won the battle of the boards against Anderson, 39-32 (+7), and has now outrebounded its opponents in eight of nine contests this year.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the loss
"It was a very tough loss for us tonight. It was very disappointing. Give Anderson a lot of credit. We really had a hard time guarding them, particularly off the dribble. In the second half, we just couldn't score the basketball (6-of-28 from the field). We did a poor job of finishing plays. Nineteen turnovers hurt us again and so did free throws (11-of-21). At halftime, we were down seven. I am looking at our numbers and saying, 'we are shooting the ball well - 50 percent from the field, 71 (percent) from three and 5-of-8 from the line.' We just weren't guarding and getting loose balls. They outhustled us. In the second half, there was a lid on there. Anthony Thomas gets us off to a good start and scores the first bucket. From that point on into the eight-minute timeout, we had only eight points. We just couldn't score it and they did."
College of Charleston Redshirt Junior Forward Willis Hall
On the loss to a non-Division I opponent and the team appearing tentative in their shooting
"It's not a lack of confidence. We are having a little bit of a rough time putting the ball in the hole. It starts defensively and we let a team pretty much shoot it however they wanted to tonight. Two losses in a row pretty much gives you too much pain as it is. It doesn't matter. Those guys are just as good as anyone. It's always a game, any time you step on the floor. Everyone has their day. We love our fans and are grateful they showed up like they did tonight, especially with the students gone. Every loss at home is painful. We want to give them a show and give them their pride back."