CHARLESTON, S.C. - Redshirt junior forward Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) scored a team-high 18 points, including 11 in the first half of play, as College of Charleston held off another last-minute comeback by Georgia Southern, 69-60, on Saturday night before a crowd of 3,734 at TD Arena.
The Cougars (19-8, 11-4 SoCon) led by as many as 23 points with 7:51 remaining in the second half, but just like their first meeting a month ago on the road, the Eagles (11-16, 5-9 SoCon) rallied back to get within six in the final two-minute stretch on a jumper by C.J. Reed, 62-56.
CofC was able to hang on for its seventh Southern Conference win in eight games and avenged a disappointing 51-47 road loss on Jan. 17 in Statesboro, Ga. In that particular contest, Georgia Southern cut the lead down to four within the final three minutes and won in the final minute of play off costly turnovers and missed rebounds by CofC.
Sophomore big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) registered his eighth career double-double with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds - his seventh of the season which currently leads the league. Also in double figures was sophomore guard Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.), who turned in 11 points and four assists in the winning cause.
The Eagles were paced by a game-high 22 points from Eric Ferguson, who was previously a fixture in the starting lineup and has come off the bench in the last two league games.
CofC will travel next to Western Carolina for a Wednesday, Feb. 20, road matchup at 7 p.m. (ET) in Cullowhee, N.C.
For the 23rd time this season, CofC went with the starting five of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, redshirt junior Willis Hall and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (18-5).
With the win, College of Charleston now leads 28-19 in the all-time series with Georgia Southern and split the final regular-season series between the two schools as CofC moves to the CAA next season.
The last six games between CofC and GSU have been decided in single digits (+9).
Willis Hall recorded his ninth double-figure scoring game of the season with a team-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor and a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc and free throw line against the Eagles.
Adjehi Baru bounced back from a two-point first half with his eighth career double-double with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. It marked his seventh double-double of the season which currently leads the Southern Conference.
CofC handled the ball well with nine turnovers versus Georgia Southern and has now made 10 miscues or less in three of its last four games.
Sophomore reserve guard Trevonté Dixon saw a season-high 10 minutes of action in the ballgame contributing two points, one rebound and one steal off the bench.
The Cougars outrebounded the Eagles, 35-31 (+4), which marked the 23rd time this season to do so against an opponent.
CofC honored 2013 CofC Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees Anthony Johnson (men's basketball), Jerry Baker (former director of athletics), Luiz Vieira (men's soccer) and Kara Shadwick-Museler (sailing) during a timeout in each half of the contest. Johnson, a 13-year NBA veteran and CofC's first NBA draft pick, remains the school's all-time career assists leader (520).
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game
"It was a really good win for us. I put on the board in the locker room, 'payback' and 'bounce back from Thursday' (against Davidson). I'm not pleased with the way we finished the game and attacked the zone in the end, but ultimately, quite a few guys played well for us. Anthony Stitt continues to grow as our future leader. Leadership is very important to me and he made some big plays tonight. It's really important to our team that Willis Hall plays well. I'm really happy for Trevonté Dixon. I thought he gave us meaningful minutes and I'm glad to have him in there. He is a great teammate. I thought Anthony Thomas also did a great job down the stretch."
On Willis Hall's performance
"Willis Hall had a fantastic game. He played with a lot of passion and enthusiasm and that's why he's a crowd favorite and a coach's favorite."
On how the team responded after Georgia Southern got back into the game
"I thought Adjehi (Baru) made some big free throws at the end for us, which is a big step for him. It's nice to have teaching points when you win versus when you lose. In the timeout, we talked about leadership. I'll never blame the players, but at some point you have to execute. We were in the bonus and I said, 'it's okay to get fouled.'"
College of Charleston Redshirt Junior Forward Willis Hall
On his performance tonight
"Thursday (against Davidson) was disappointing and I was fired up and ready to get back on the court. I can't stand losing. As we wind the season down, I really want to win. I got going early and tried to keep it going."
On Georgia Southern's comeback at the end of the game
"The positive note is that we didn't let it affect us in the final minutes and we were still able to get the win. They are the type of team that if you don't put them away, they will sneak back up on you. Give them credit."
College of Charleston Sophomore Forward Adjehi Baru
On letting Georgia Southern come back at the end
"We relaxed a bit too much down the stretch. It doesn't matter how much you're up by, you have to keep playing hard. I keep working on my free throws, so I can help my team win games. They are free points and I have to put them in the basket. I will keep working on that."
On the play of Willis Hall
"He gave us a big lift tonight. We needed to bounce back after the Davidson game and he gave us great energy in the game."