Georgia Southern hands the Cougars first road loss 51-47
STATESBORO, Ga. - Georgia Southern knocked off its second-straight South Division opponent with a 51-47 victory over College of Charleston in a see-saw battle held on Thursday night in Southern Conference action at Hanner Fieldhouse.
The Cougars (12-6, 4-2 SoCon) let a four-point lead slip away in the final three minutes of the contest as their six-game, undefeated road streak came to an end at the hands of the Eagles (8-10, 2-3 SoCon).
A layup by junior forward Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and a free throw by sophomore guard Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) at the 3:09 and 2:43 minutes marks gave CofC a four-point cushion, 44-40.
Defensively, both teams came into the ballgame as the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked league squads in scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense. And it showed, as CofC and GSU both shot 34.0 percent from the floor (18-of-53) and 22.2 and 13.3 percent from beyond the arc respectively.
Georgia Southern would rattle off the next nine points sparked by a three-pointer by Cleon Roberts with 56 seconds remaining in regulation.
Senior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England) drained a three-pointer with 10 seconds left to give the Cougars' one last shot, 49-47, but Roberts would be fouled and calmly sank both of his free throws to seal the Eagle's second-straight home win in the series with CofC.
Lawrence ended the night with a game-high 15 points, while Thomas was the only other Cougar in double figures with 10. C.J. Reed led Georgia Southern with 14 points.
CofC will continue its road stretch through league play at preseason divisional favorite Davidson (10-7, 5-1 SoCon) on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 7:00 p.m. (ET) at Belk Arena in Davidson, N.C.
For the 14th 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 (11-3).
Georgia Southern claimed its 19th win in the all-time series in which CofC still leads 21-19. It was the five-straight game in the series between the two schools which was decided in single digits (-4). The Cougars have now lost two consecutive road games at Georgia Southern next to a 64-58 loss at Hanner Fieldhouse on Jan. 21, 2012 (-6).
The Eagles snapped CofC's six-game undefeated road win streak which led the nation among undefeated NCAA Division I road teams still remaining in the season.
Andrew Lawrence registered his sixth double-figure scoring game in the last seven contests with a game-high 15 points at Georgia Southern. He is now three points away from recording his 1,000th career point with 997 points to date.
CofC shot 34.0 percent from the floor (18-of-53) which was its second-lowest shooting percentage of the season behind 33.3 percent from the field against Anderson (S.C.) University on Dec. 13.
For the 15th time this season, the Cougars outboarded the opposition, 40-35 (+5).
Willis Hall brought down a game-high 11 rebounds which marked his ninth double-figure rebounding game of his career.
Anthony Thomas scored in double figures for the seventh time this year with 10 points.
CofC defense holds Georgia Southern to an opponent season-low 13 first-half points. The Cougars previously held Towson to 14 first-half points in the team's season opener on Nov. 9. However, CofC was also held to its second-lowest first half with 20 points.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the see-saw game on the road
"It's never really pretty at all when you run into the locker room with a 20-13, seven-point lead. Regardless of the score, you have to really put your foot on your throat in the first four minutes of the second half and we just didn't do that. We gave them hope and it became a see-saw battle. We had a 44-40 lead, gave up two offensive rebounds, they make a three and now it's a game."
On the team's defensive effort
"You can't ask for anything more from us defensively in the first half. But, we put so much pressure on ourselves defensively (in the second half), because we were not scoring and that's where the problem was tonight."
College of Charleston Redshirt Junior Forward Willis Hall
On the team's first loss on the road ...
"They (Georgia Southern) had a great crowd and a lot of energy. They were playing really well. Down the stretch, we had a couple of possessions defensively, where we didn't rebound when we needed to. We let a couple go and then we let them hit a couple of shots at the end - and it got away from us from there. In the critical points of the game, we couldn't get the stops like we needed to."