College of Charleston shot nearly 50 percent from the field in the second half to pull away from Coker, 68-54, in a post-exam, non-conference game held on Thursday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (4-5) picked up a win in the team's first game since playing 11 days ago in The Wooden Legacy tournament over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was CofC's first meeting with the NCAA Division II Cobras (4-4) since 1999.
Charleston nursed a single-digit lead throughout most of the game as a result of missed opportunities from the free-throw line. CofC finished 11-of-22 from the charity stripe (50 percent) and 26-of-60 (43.3 percent) from the field. However, the Cougars dominated in the paint, outscoring the Cobras 36-20 around the rim and winning the battle of the boards, 44-27.
Junior big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) led CofC with his third double-double of the season and 12th of his career. He tallied a game-high 19 points, just one shy of his career high, and brought down 11 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. He also made two big blocks and had a steal.
Junior Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) scored 13 points and dished a game-high four assists, while redshirt freshman Canyon Barry (Colorado Springs, Colo.) added 11.
Despite fouling out late in the game, redshirt senior Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) was a monster on the glass with a season-and game-high 14 rebounds. Freshman Johnathan Burroughs-Cook (Memphis, Tenn.) came off the bench to score seven points and had two big steals.
Coker was led by the outside shooting of Julian Nelson, who made four treys en route to an 18-point night. Eren Moses finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Neither team could find the scoring touch early on as CofC finally broke double digits by the 13:52 minute mark of the first half, 11-9.
Coker's Moses gave the visitors a 13-11 lead on a jumper with 12:25 on the clock, but a three-pointer and then a transition-finish from Stitt put the Cougars up, 16-13, and Charleston would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.
A three-pointer and dunk from sophomore Theo Johnson (Sacramento, Calif.) stretched the lead to 28-20 at the 2:20 mark, and Baru added two buckets in the paint for CofC's 32-26 halftime lead.
The Cobras hung around in the second half, pulling within 36-34 after a three from Nelson. Baru's power in the paint traded bucket-for-bucket with Coker, but the home team only led by four, 51-47, with 9:13 remaining.
Cook electrified the crowd with a spinning layup through contact, making the old-fashioned three-point play to push the margin to 54-47. He then added two free throws after a Barry layup to give CofC breathing room at 58-49. Another Barry bucket gave Charleston its first double-digit lead, 60-49, with 5:56 left.
The Cougars will return to action against Marist (0-9) as part of a two-game weekend homestand on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. The game will be televised live locally on MyTV Charleston. Tickets are still available for purchase by calling (843) 953-COFC.
· For the ninth game in a row, the Cougars started freshman Joe Chealey, junior Anthony Stitt, redshirt freshman Canyon Barry, senior Willis Hall and junior Adjehi Baru (4-5).
· With the win, the College of Charleston remains an undefeated 11-0 in the all-time series with Coker which dates back to the 1972-73 season. Both teams last met in 1999 during the regular season.
· Adjehi Baru scored a season-and game-high 19 points and added 11 rebounds. He also shot a season-best 9-of-12 (75.0%) from the floor against the Cobras. It marked his 12th career double-double and third of the season.
· Anthony Stitt turned in 13 points with a game-high four assists with just one turnover. He is currently on a season-best three-game double-digit scoring streak.
· Willis Hall brought down double-figure boards in back-to-back games with a season-and game-high 14 rebounds including six on the offensive glass against Coker. It marked his 14th double-figure rebounding game of his career and fourth on the season.
· Sophomore Theo Johnson came off the bench and contributed a season-high five points in only eight minutes of action against Coker.
· The Cougars have now outrebounded the opposition on five occasions this season and are 4-1 when doing so. They outboarded the Cobras, 44-27 (+17), which tied a season-high in rebounding margin next to Arizona State (+17) on Nov. 29. It also marked a season-best for rebounds in a single game.
· CofC is 4-0 when scoring 60-or-more points this season (68 points vs. Coker).
· Defensively, the Cougars held Coker to its lowest scoring output of the season (54 points) next to a 64-54 loss at Queens on Nov. 26.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game …
"I'm proud of my team. We scored 68 points. The crowd hung in there with us with no lobs, no dunks and no threes. It was a great crowd on a Thursday night during holiday shopping time, no students here and a non-Division I game. Our positives tonight. (Adjehi) Baru's double-double and (Anthony) Stitt's leadership was phenomenal. Stitt had a great floor game and defensive game. Willis still got his 14 rebounds. We had positive assist-to-turnover ratio and crushing them (Coker) on the glass. However, we do have to shoot the ball better. It was good to give Johnathan (Burroughs-Cook), Terrance O'Donohue and Theo (Johnson) some minutes. Theo was a good spark for us in the first half. We haven't had too much of that with the schedule we have played. We continue to play defense without fouling. We rank 10th in the country in personal fouls per game. We just finished finals yesterday. I'm proud of our guys and the grades that I have seen come in. I'm really happy with those grades and proud of our team. It really adds to how we move forward here during this next month when we don't have school. We can concentrate, we can get our rest and everyone can feel good about their academic standing in December and January."
College of Charleston Junior Forward Adjehi Baru
On his double-double performance and the game …
"We had great fans tonight and that was important for me and my teammates. I appreciate my teammates and my coaches – I think we did a good job tonight."
On being the focal point of the offensive …
"I have to give credit to my teammates. They were looking for me even though their shots weren't falling. When I get the ball down low, I go to my move and if I see the double, I pass it off."
College of Charleston Junior Guard Anthony Stitt
On the game …
"We're happy with the win. We had a great crowd tonight, especially considering that most of the students have gone home for the winter holiday. I think we could have shot the ball better, but we'll work on that in practice."
On a strong team performance in the second half …
"We struggled a little bit early on to string together stops, but at the end of the day, Adjehi (Baru) and Willis (Hall) did a great job on the glass and we were able to outrebound them. That was very important for us tonight."
On the 11-day break between games …
"It was great to get back out there. We have been practicing for 11 days and I know we were all pretty anxious to get back on the floor. We kind of got into a rhythm tonight, and, I expect us to be really good in the next couple of games."