CHARLESTON, S.C. - College of Charleston won its third consecutive Southern Conference game by double digits dispatching North Division foe Appalachian State, 72-59, on Wednesday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (14-7, 7-3 SoCon) used an energetic second half to overcome a two-point halftime deficit and avenge last year's loss to the Mountaineers (8-12, 4-5 SoCon) in the 2012 Southern Conference Tournament.
CofC shot 52 percent in the second half and finished shooting 25-of-55 from the field, while holding ASU to just 37.5 percent overall (24-of-64). The Cougars also held the edge in rebounding (39-37), assists (16-9) and fast-break points (16-4).
Former Mountaineer Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.), a JUCO transfer from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College by way of ASU, came up big for CofC, scoring a career-high 14 points as he shot 6-of-10 from the field against his former team. Thomas also grabbed seven rebounds and made three blocks as part of the Cougars' season-best nine blocks.
Senior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England) scored a team-high 16 points and dished out four assists, while sophomore Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) and junior big man Trent Wiedeman (Suwanee, Ga.) each pitched in 10 points. Stitt's seven rebounds set a new season high and he also distributed six assists for the near triple-double stat line.
Appalachian State was led by Tevin Baskin's 16 points, although Baskin picked up his fourth foul midway through the second half. Jay Canty scored 11 points, while Tab Hamilton added nine.
The teams played even through the first 10 minutes of the first half until ASU went on a 12-2 run to build a 25-17 lead after a layup and foul shot from Chris Burgess. The Cougars responded with a big run of their own, retaking the lead at the 1:58 minute mark on a layup from redshirt junior Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.), after outscoring the Mountaineers 12-2.
ASU's Canty broke the tied score with a jumper in the final minute and a last-second trey from Stitt was off the mark, giving Appalachian State a 35-33 lead at the half.
Both teams traded three-pointers to open the second frame until the Cougars started getting out in transition and opening a lead. Freshman reserve Theo Johnson (Sacramento, Calif.) hit a three-pointer from the left wing, rebounded an ASU miss and then Lawrence hit Wiedeman in transition for the fast-break layup to put CofC up 49-42.
CofC's run continued with aggressive play that resulted in free throws from Lawrence and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast). With 10:15 remaining, the Cougars had built a 55-48 lead and proceeded to hold the Mountaineers scoreless for the next six minutes. By the time that ASU scored again at the 4:04 minute mark, the Cougars had built a 17-point lead and were running away.
Appalachian State cut the lead to 10 on a layup from Michael Obacha, but never crept closer as the College of Charleston ran down the clock on a 72-59 victory.
The Cougars will host UNCG on Saturday, Feb. 2 for another 7 p.m. (ET) SoCon South vs. North Division matchup at TD Arena. The game will be televised locally on MyTV Charleston and carried nationally on ESPN3/WatchESPN.com.
For the 18th 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 (14-4).
With the win, the Cougars continue to lead 18-12 in the all-time series with Appalachian State. They avenged a 83-81 first-round loss to the Mountaineers in the 2012 Southern Conference Tournament in Asheville, N.C. CofC has now won four consecutive home games versus ASU when played at TD Arena.
It was former coach against former player as CofC Head Coach Doug Wojcik went up against Appalachian State Head Coach Jason Capel for the second time in each of their coaching careers. Wojcik was an assistant coach at North Carolina during Capel's junior and senior seasons and tied up the coaching series at 1-1 with a loss to the Mountaineers, while the head coach at Tulsa in 2010-11.
Andrew Lawrence reached double figures in scoring for the 15th time this season with a game-high tying 16 points against Appalachian State, the alma mater of his father, Renaldo, who played in Boone, N.C., for former CofC Head Coach Bobby Cremins from 1978-79. It was Lawrence's fifth game in double digits in the last six contests in SoCon play.
Anthony Thomas, who played his freshman season at App State from 2010-11, registered a career-high 14 points, seven rebounds and a career-high tying three blocked shots versus his former school.
Trent Wiedeman came off the bench and has now contributed double figures in three of the team's last four contests with 10 points versus Appalachian State.
Anthony Stitt turned in a near triple-double with 10 points, a season-high seven rebounds and six assists.
The Cougars took care of the basketball with a season-low tying eight turnovers versus ASU. It tied eight miscues at Vermont on Dec. 29. For the game, CofC had an impressive 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio (16-to-8).
CofC also made a season-high tying nine blocked shots behind Thomas (3), sophomore big man Adjehi Baru (3), redshirt junior forward Willis Hall (2) and junior reserve Nori Johnson (1).
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game
"It was a really good game for us. We had a great second half. We actually got off to a better start here than we did at Wofford. We felt like tonight was AT's (Anthony Thomas) night. Our defense wasn't bad, but I thought we took too many threes in the first half. We came out in the second half and really put together a nice 20 minutes of basketball. We wore them out. They shot 45 percent in the first half to 30 percent in the second half. We did a good job on the other team's best player (Nathan Healy) for the third-straight game."
On Anthony Thomas' performance
"He was terrific tonight with 14 points, seven rebounds, 6-of-10 (from the field), three blocks and one steal. He played really poised. To be honest, he's been playing that way for a while now. Over the last two-to-three weeks, he has been really consistent. A lot of people say, he is kind of our X-Factor and I would agree with them. If he is playing like that, we have a chance. We had really good balance tonight and scored 72, which could have easily been 78 (points) had we made our free throws."
College of Charleston Junior Small Forward Anthony Thomas
On playing against his old school ...
"I'm really past that (transferring from Appalachian State). This whole week is really a big deal for me. I'm on to UNCG. That's the game of the year for me to show people what I can do defensively. It was really different to shake hands after the game, but they (former ASU teammates) respect me and told me, 'good game.'"
College of Charleston Senior Point Guard Andrew Lawrence
On the team clicking offensively the last couple of games
"We are starting to get it going on offense which is a really good sign for us. In the first half, they were clogging us up on the defensive end and we couldn't get a stop. In the second half, we came out and really locked up and played a lot better defense. We got a few blocks and few steals. We got out in transition. We were able to make some shots. It was a really good win for us."