CHARLESTON, S.C. - The College of Charleston men's basketball team rebounded from Thursday's loss to Samford with an impressive 86-59 victory over Southern Conference North Division foe Chattanooga on Saturday at TD Arena.
The Cougars (11-5, 3-1 SoCon) set new season highs in points scored (86) and margin of victory (27) as CofC led the Mocs (7-10, 2-2 SoCon) from start-to-finish.
Five different players scored in double figures as the Cougars shot 50 percent (31-of-62) from the field. Defensively, they limited Chattanooga to just 35 percent shooting (21-of-60) and forced 15 turnovers, converting those into 16 points. Charleston also held a dominant edge in rebounding, grabbing 46 boards to Chattanooga's 32.
Sophomore guard Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) was all over the floor for the Cougars as he poured in 20 points with four assists, two steals and only two turnovers. He shot 8-of-13 from the field and hit a team-high three trifectas. The win marked Stitt's second 20-point performance this season and came just two days after only scoring five points against Samford.
Sophomore big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) continued his dominant play inside as he notched his second-straight game with a double-double. He finished with 13 points, 10 boards, two steals and three blocks, including an impressive one-handed alley-oop dunk in the second half that brought the crowd to its feet.
Redshirt junior forward Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) had a solid performance with 13 points and eight rebounds, while junior small forward Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and junior forward Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.) each scored 11 points. Wiedeman's production was especially heartening as it marked his first points since suffering an ankle injury in December.
Senior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England) tied a career high with 10 assists to go with seven points and two steals. Lawrence's previous season-high assist mark came against Baylor when he gave out seven dimes on the Nov. 24 road upset.
Ronrico White, younger brother of former CofC standout Tony White, Jr. (2006-10), was the only UTC player to score in double figures (10 points) with five of his points coming from behind the free-throw stripe.
CofC started the game hot, hitting its first five shot attempts to build a 12-2 lead. A jumper by Hall put the lead to 20-2, before Chattanooga even scored its second basket. The Mocs cut the lead in half with three-straight buckets, making it 20-10, before Thomas answered with a three-pointer to shut off any opposing momentum.
The Cougars finished the first half shooting 56.3 percent from the field and held a 50-24 advantage going into the locker room. It marked the most points from CofC in the first half this season.
CofC did not let up in the second half of play as Stitt pushed the lead to 30 points with a three-pointer at the 15:31 minute mark, 60-30. Baru excited the crowd just a few minutes later with a one-handed alley-oop dunk over a Chattanooga defender to make the score, 68-38. The largest lead of the game came after two Wiedeman free throws with 7:40 remaining, giving CofC a 79-44 advantage.
Sophomore reserve Pat Branin (Richmond, Va.) hit a three-pointer and junior walk-on Judson Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) made a layup in the final minute to give Charleston the 86-59 home victory.
CofC will travel across town for a Monday, Jan. 14, showdown with crosstown rival The Citadel at McAlister Field House at 7:30 p.m. (ET). The game will be televised on the Charleston Sports Network locally on MyTV Charleston (WMMP) and carried nationally on ESPN3/WatchESPN.com.
For the 12th time this season, CofC used the starting lineup of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, redshirt junior Willis Hall and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (10-2).
With the win, the Cougars take a 17-11 advantage in the all-time series with Chattanooga. They have now won five of the last six meetings between the two schools. It was the team's third 20-or-more point rout of the Mocs in the last six games of the series.
CofC recorded its highest-scoring offensive output (86 points) and largest margin of victory over an opponent (+27) this season.
Anthony Stitt registered his fourth career 20-point game with a game-high 20 points versus Chattanooga. He turned in his career-best 15 first-half points. Stitt previously scored 13 of his career-high 23 points versus UMass at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the first half as a freshman on Nov. 26, 2011.
Adjehi Baru recorded his fifth career double-double with 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. It was his fourth double-double of the season and second time in back-to-back games with one this year.
Andrew Lawrence dished out a career-high tying 10 assists with just two turnovers against Chattanooga. It marked his second career double-figure assist game next to 10 against Central Florida at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 24, 2011.
CofC scored a season-high 50 points in the first half against Chattanooga and tied its largest lead of the season over an opponent entering the half (+26) along with leading by 26 versus Towson in its season opener on Nov. 9.
The Cougars celebrated the 30th anniversary of their 1983 NAIA National Championship title with members of the team present on CofC Basketball Alumni Weekend including former head coach John Kresse and standouts Steve Yetman and Greg Mack.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the win
"Our basketball I.Q. was good tonight. We have a nice little rotation. Across the board, everyone played well except for Nori (Johnson). He got into some foul trouble, but it is okay. We will talk about how he is coming off the bench to be a defensive stopper for us. To me, it's about our progress. I don't want to keep having the losses. We learned from Thursday and it's not always going to go this way. It did today and it's good, especially against this (Chattanooga) team. They are talented and could easily be in the finals of the SoCon Tournament in March. It was a quality conference win for us."
On Anthony Stitt and Adjehi Baru's play
"I believe our defensive catalyst is Anthony Stitt. He has taken to it and he sets the tone for us. We had a really good tone today. They were alert and Adjehi (Baru) continues to get better. He is a pleasure to coach. One of the best to be around, because of his alertness and desire to learn and improve. I'm happy he continues to improve, especially from the free throw line. Those are points for him."
College of Charleston Junior Forward Trent Wiedeman
On the win ...
"There's been a few games this year where we were up double digits in the second half and we may have still won the game, but we made it a three-or-four point game when we should've won by double digits. We took a big step today and learned from our mistakes the last couple of games - not letting up even when we had a big lead."
College of Charleston Sophomore Guard Anthony Stitt
On the win
"We've been talking to each other about putting a full game together and playing a full 40 minutes the best we can. We've been struggling at home, but we knew it would just take one game to take the cover off the lid of the basket and to give us confidence. I'm proud of everybody - Trent (Wiedeman) came back and played great. Adjehi (Baru) had a double-double, so that's big for us. I think we just have to keep it rolling from here, no let-downs."
On playing better at home
"It's very important. We can't let someone come into our house and play harder than us from the beginning. We were really focused on our intensity from the start and that was a big boost for us. We know that we got off to a big start in the first half, so we were working on that and we have to keep doing that. We can't let people come back, we have to have a killer instinct."