CHARLESTON, S.C. – Four players scored in double figures including a game-high 21 points from graduate senior forward Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) as College of Charleston clamped down defensively on William & Mary resulting in an 87-54 rout on Wednesday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (14-14, 6-7 CAA) avoided the regular-season series sweep avenging a 74-63 road loss to the Tribe (16-10, 8-5 CAA) on Jan. 27 in Williamsburg, Va.
CofC fired on all cylinders from every place on the court with season-bests across the board from the floor (64.2%), from the three-point line (63.6%) and from the charity stripe (100%).
William & Mary led only on the opening basket by Tim Rusthoven as the Cougars went on a 17-6 run courtesy of a three-pointer by junior Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) at the 11:48 minute mark. The Tribe immediately called a 30-second timeout to regroup, but CofC continued to click offensively and there was no stopping the train.
Redshirt freshman guard Canyon Barry (Colorado Springs, Colo.), whose mother, Lynn (Norenberg) Barry, is the only woman in William & Mary history to have her basketball jersey retired, rattled off 17 points off the bench. He has now scored in double figures in each of the team’s last four consecutive CAA games. Barry did not suit up in both teams’ last meeting due to a finger injury.
Senior Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.) scored 16 points including four of the team’s season-high 14 made threes in the ballgame, while Stitt added 13. CofC went into the locker room with a 36-20 advantage holding the Tribe to its lowest half of the season.
Charleston, which ranked No. 1 in the league in scoring defense entering the contest, held William & Mary to its second-lowest scoring output of the season. The Cougars also limited the CAA’s second-leading scorer, Marcus Thornton, to just his third single-digit game of the season with nine points.
Rusthoven and Omar Prewitt were the only two Tribe scorers in double figures with 13 each. They shot a season-low 12.5 percent from beyond the arc, after setting a school-record with 16 made three-pointers against UNC Wilmington on Feb. 17.
CofC will travel next to UNCW (8-21, 2-12 CAA) for a Saturday, Feb. 22 league rematch scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) in Wilmington, N.C. The game will be televised live locally on MyTV Charleston via the Charleston Sports Network.
· For the 10th time this season and 10th consecutive game in CAA play, the Cougars went with the starting five 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 (4-6).
· With the win, College of Charleston splits the regular-season series with William & Mary, 1-1. The Cougars have now defeated two of the CAA’s top four teams in the course of six short days next to their win over preseason second-place Drexel (W, 47-46) on Feb. 13.
· Willis Hall turned in a near double-double performance with a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds. It marked his eighth career 20-point outing – his second-most points scored against a CAA opponent this season behind 22 points at James Madison on Jan. 25. Hall has now tabulated 1,105 career points and 810 career rebounds to date.
· Canyon Barry extended his double-digit scoring streak to four consecutive games with a league personal best 17 points against William & Mary. He has now had the rare honor of having played against the alma maters of his parents, Rick & Lynn (Norenberg) Barry, during the same season. Rick, an NBA Hall of Famer, starred at Miami (Fla.) from 1962-65, and Lynn, starred at W&M from 1978-81.
· Anthony Stitt dished out four of the team’s season-high 18 assists in the ballgame. He also added 13 points and five rebounds to the winning cause.
· Nori Johnson knocked down four of CofC’s season-best 14 three-pointers in the contest. He ended the night with 16 points which marked his seventh double-figure scoring game of the season.
· The Cougars scored 87 points against William & Mary – its second-highest scoring output of the season behind a season-best 89 points versus Furman on Nov. 23. It was their highest-scoring game against a CAA opponent this season – a W&M team that ranked second-best in the league in scoring offense (73.6 ppg) entering the game.
· Defensively, CofC limited the Tribe to a season-low 20 first-half points and their second-lowest point total in game this season next to a season-low 45 points in a loss at West Virginia out of the Big 12 on Dec. 29. The Cougars also held the CAA’s second-leading scorer, Marcus Thornton (19.2 ppg), to only his third single-digit game of the season (9 points) next to WVU and Towson.
· On the boards, Charleston outrebounded William & Mary by a +18 margin (36-to-18). It was the second-largest rebound margin this season behind +21 at Delaware on Feb. 5.
· The Cougars also shot season-bests from the floor (64.2 percent), from beyond the arc (63.6 percent) and from the charity stripe (100 percent) against the Tribe.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the win …
“It was just a complete performance for us. We shot the ball well tonight. We shot it well from two and we shoot it well from three. We don’t get to the line often, but that is two games in a row now, where we are 14-of-15 from the free throw line. We had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (1.64). It really was a great game by our guys. It was a phenomenal defensive performance, particularly with Nori (Johnson) on (William & Mary’s) Marcus Thornton in combination with Canyon (Barry) and Theo (Johnson). Obviously, Willis Hall played a good game. Canyon and Nori played really well together tonight. Anthony Thomas had a great spirit about him and Anthony Stitt had a phenomenal game. It’s maybe the best game I’ve coached him in.”
On playing a dominating game in conference play as the league race heats up …
“Especially, a conference game against one of the top three teams in the league. The top four teams right now have some pretty senior-laden experienced teams. It’s (the win over William & Mary) a tiebreaker game for us. Northeastern has the tiebreaker with a win over Towson. As we move forward, they (Northeastern) trump our tiebreaker, but it is a good tie-breaker game. This win gives us a lot of confidence. We defended the three extremely well and as long as we can keep our psyche in that place and envision ourselves in that place, each and every one of us, I think that will really help us going forward.”
College of Charleston Graduate Senior Forward Willis Hall
On what it is like being in a game when everyone is hitting on all cylinders …
“It makes a huge difference. The energy keeps going, especially when you are seeing the ball go in and you’re running back on defense. You’re ready to defend and you’re ready to play. We are a team that is always going to defend, but there is always just a little bit more pick up in your ‘giddy-up’ when you see the ball going through the net yourself.”
On playing defense the full 40 minutes …
“Well, that is what we’re always going to do. I think that we’ve always said, ‘we’re going to rebound, we’re going to play defense and we’re going to be physical.’ Those are staples for us. Fortunately tonight, our defense was a staple and our offense was a killer and that is how we have to move forward the rest of the season.”
College of Charleston Senior Combination Guard Nori Johnson
On guarding William & Mary’s Marcus Thornton …
“I think we made some really good adjustments from the first game to the second game. Obviously, he (Marcus Thornton) is one of the hardest to guard in our league. He can score it using those ball screens and in their Princeton offense. I just wanted to frustrate him a little bit, stay attached to him and go around the ball screens just to make sure he didn’t get comfortable enough to get in a good rhythm.”