Cougar Defense Shuts Down Hofstra, 67-49
CofC Athletics Communicatons
CHARLESTON, S.C. – College of Charleston’s defense shut down Hofstra as the Cougars cruised to a 67-49 Homecoming Weekend victory on Saturday at TD Arena.
Charleston (12-11, 4-4 CAA) evened its conference record with the victory, while the Pride fell to 7-15 and 3-5 in CAA play.
CofC’s defense shined throughout the game as it held Hofstra to just 27.1 percent field-goal shooting (16-of-59), the lowest mark by a Charleston opponent this season, and a season-low tying 49 points for the game. The Cougars also outrebounded the Pride, 51-38, and held a 16-5 advantage in team assists.
Charleston caught fire from behind the arc, tying a season high with 12 three-pointers on 12-of-24 shooting (50.0 percent). The Cougars shot 40.7 percent (22-of-54) from the field and 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from the line.
Graduate senior Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) led all scorers with his eighth double-double of the season, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He hit four three-pointers and has now scored in double figures in seven-straight games.
Junior point guard Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) hit four threes en route to a 16-point outing, dishing four assists against two turnovers. Senior Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.) scored 14 points on four threes.
Senior Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) grabbed nine rebounds and was a big part of the defensive effort that limited Hofstra’s top scorer, Zeke Upshaw, who averaged the second-most points in the CAA entering the game at 19.2 ppg.
Although Upshaw scored a team-high 14 points for Hofstra, he only shot 5-of-14 from the floor. Dion Nesmith and Jamall Robinson each added 10 points, and Robinson also grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Cougars were scoreless over the first four minutes of the first half, allowing Hofstra to jump out to a 7-0 lead. However, Charleston locked down defensively and found offensive fire to go on a 19-3 run and build a 19-10 lead at the 7:44 minute mark.
The Pride rallied to cut the lead to 24-20 after an Upshaw three-pointer, but CofC used a number of missed Hofstra free throws and three-pointers from Hall and Stitt to go back up by nine, 30-21, at halftime.
The Pride’s shooting went ice cold in the second half and the Cougars took advantage. Hofstra didn’t hit a field goal for 7:33-minute stretch as Charleston built a 43-24 advantage with 11:36 to go.
Subsequent three-pointers from Johnson and Stitt effectively put the game away and a dunk from junior Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) at the 6:12 minute mark was the final nail as CofC led 58-35.
The Charleston reserves played for the final minute and two free throws from junior Pat Branin (Richmond, Va.) excited the Homecoming Weekend crowd in the final seconds.
CofC will return to the road for CAA action traveling to current league-leader and undefeated Delaware (16-7, 8-0 CAA) on Wednesday, Feb. 5 in Newark, Del.
· For the fifth time this season and fifth-straight game, the Cougars used the starting lineup of junior guard Anthony Stitt, senior combo guard Nori Johnson, senior small forward Anthony Thomas, graduate senior forward Willis Hall and junior forward Adjehi Baru (2-3).
· With the win, College of Charleston evens the all-time series with Hofstra to 1-1. The Cougars avenged a close four-point loss (75-71) to the Pride on Jan. 11.
· Redshirt freshman guard Canyon Barry returned to the lineup after missing the last eight games of the season at the 16:35 minute mark of the first half of play against Hofstra. He suffered a finger injury to his shooting (right) hand at Davidson on Jan. 1. Barry saw 10 minutes of action with two points, three rebounds and one assist.
· Willis Hall registered his eighth double-double of the season with a game-high 18 points and 11 rebounds against Hofstra. He has now tabulated 1,047 career points and 765 career rebounds to date. Hall is on a season-best seven-game double-digit scoring streak.
· CofC knocked down 10-or-more three-pointers for the sixth time this season going 12-of-24 from downtown. The Cougars tied their season-high with 12 threes against the Pride.
· Nori Johnson turned in his sixth double-figure scoring game of the season with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from behind the three-point arc.
· Anthony Stitt has scored in double figures in back-to-back games with 16 against Hofstra.
· The Cougar defense held Hofstra to its second-fewest points in a half with 21 first-half points. They also held the Pride to a season-low tying 49 points in a game next to SMU’s 73-49 rout of Hofstra on Jan. 19. CofC also held the CAA’s second-leading scorer, Zeke Upshaw, to just his seventh game with 15 points-or-less (14 points) – only his second-lowest output against league competition.
· CofC dished out the second-most assists in a single-game this season with 16 against Hofstra. It was one shy of the squad’s season-best 17 against Furman on Nov. 23 and 16 at The Citadel on Dec. 29.
· The Cougars have now won four-straight Homecoming Weekend games since the 2010-11 season.
· Former Two-Time Conference Player of the Year Sedric Webber (’99) was honored during the game as one of three 2014 CofC Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees along with women’s tennis standout Siri Mittet (’97) and 1994 College Sailor of the Year Tyler W. Moore (’95).
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the Homecoming game …
“It was just a really good performance today on a special day (Homecoming) for The College. It started out with Sedric Webber being inducted into the CofC Athletics Hall of Fame which I tried to build off of with the team. We had breakfast and then we were shooting earlier today. (Former CofC greats) Anthony Johnson, Stacy Harris, Rodney Conner – all those guys were here and it was a big moment. We don’t have football, so it is new to me to have Homecoming in February. But, I thought the crowd was fantastic and our kids really responded. They responded in a big, physical way. Hofstra played physical up at their place and I thought our guys did a great job, particularly on the glass, 51-to-38.”
On the team’s defensive play …
“Our ball screen defense was much better this game. Going into the last game, we tried to deny (Zeke) Upshaw and we tried to deny (Dion) Nesmith and even (Chris) Jenkins a little bit. That opened the lane up to us a little bit. We were more alert to (Jordan) Allen’s drive at the four position. That’s where Willis (Hall) got in a lot of foul trouble in the first game. We shrunk the floor much better this time and they missed some layups. But, what we did is clean and up the rebounds and didn’t give them second-chance opportunities. They are a physical team. It was like the SuperBowl with free throws. Our guys responded well tonight.”
College of Charleston Graduate Senior Forward Willis Hall
On the game …
“We were shooting really good shots. We had a lot of movement going on. We have been working on a couple of plays, where we’re moving in-and-out through the lane, giving each other those angles to drive and then dish out for just step-in jumpers. When you make it easy for guys like me, Anthony (Stitt) and Nori (Johnson), who just have to step-in and shoot the three, it’s a lot easier to make. Today, I would say our ball movement helped us be more consistent from the three-point line rather than begging for the ball to go in.”
College of Charleston Junior Point Guard Anthony Stitt
On applying pressure on Hofstra …
“We were making them take tough shots the whole game. They were trying to just get one up and they weren’t really focusing and missed them. We were able to get the rebounds and run in transition.”
On his play from the first half to the second half …
“Willis (Hall) might have taken the lid off the basket for us, because I know he hit about three threes in the first half. We just kept moving the ball and were able to get step-in threes. Nori (Johnson) made a great play at the end of the game. He got the ball to him, reversed, he drove, made the defense take him and I was able to hit the wide-open three, so most of the shots we were getting, were step-in threes and we work on that a lot in practice.”