CHARLESTON, S.C. - College of Charleston was held to a season-low tying 33.3 percent from the floor as Gardner-Webb escaped with a 55-52 non-conference win on the road as part of ESPN BracketBusters weekend on Saturday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (20-9) led 30-27 at halftime, but were outscored and outrebounded by the Runnin' Bulldogs (18-11) in the final stretch who won their fifth straight.
It was definitely a battle between two of the nation's top scoring defenses as Gardner-Webb held CofC to its fifth-lowest scoring output of the season (52 points), while the Cougars held the Bulldogs to their third-lowest (55 points).
Both squads also entered the contest as one of the hottest teams in their respective leagues as CofC had won eight of its last nine in Southern Conference play and GWU seven of its last eight in the Big South.
Senior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England) led all scorers with a game-high 16 points, including 12 points accumulated on four three-point daggers which chipped away at a nine-point lead by Gardner-Webb in the first half.
Charleston led by as many as five in the second half of play on a layup by Lawrence, but wasn't able to build a substantial lead as the game saw three ties in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
Tied at 49 with 4:17 remaining on the clock, CofC (11) and GWU (2) missed a combined 13 points in the next three-minute stretch with neither team connecting on a bucket.
A tip-in by Kevin Hartley gave the Bulldogs' the 51-49 advantage with 1:02 remaining and they never looked back as missed rebounds and turnovers cost the Cougars down the final stretch.
Gardner-Webb was led by double figure scoring from Hartley with 14 and Tyler Strange with 12. With the win, the Bulldogs evened the all-time series to 1-1 avenging both teams' first meeting nearly 13 years ago in December of 2000.
CofC will return to SoCon action versus Wofford (12-17, 6-10 SoCon) on Senior Night on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. The game will be televised live locally on MyTV Charleston and carried nationally on ESPN3/WatchESPN.com.
- For the 25th time this year, CofC went with the starting lineup of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, redshirt junior Willis Hall and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (19-6).
- With the win, Gardner-Webb evened the all-time series to 1-1 with College of Charleston. Both teams last met during the 2000-01 season where the Cougars prevailed with an 81-63 victory over the Runnin' Bulldogs under legendary head coach John Kresse.
- It was also CofC's first loss to a Big South Conference opponent in its last 10 games versus a school hailing from the league. They entered the contest on a nine-game win streak.
- The Cougars are now 5-2 all-time in ESPN BracketBusters games having lost their first late-season, non-conference contest since their first appearance in the event back in 2004. They had previously won five consecutive BracketBusters matchups against VCU (2005), Georgia State (2006), George Mason (2010), Vermont (2011) and Kent State (2012).
- Andrew Lawrence turned in his seventh double-figure scoring game in the last eight contests with a game-high 16 points including 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. He has now tabulated 1,131 career points which ranks 26th on the all-time career scoring list in the CofC record books. With his four assists against Gardner-Webb, Lawrence turned in his second consecutive 100+ assist season (103) to give him 374 for his career which ranks 11th all-time.
- CofC was a held to a season-low tying 33.3 shooting percentage from the floor (18-of-54) which tied its 33.3 shooting percentage (16-of-48) versus Anderson University on Dec. 13.
- Defensively, the Cougars held Gardner-Webb to its third-fewest points of the season (55), but the Runnin' Bulldogs also did the same to CofC with its fifth-fewest points (52). Both entered the second-ever meeting between the two schools ranked No. 47 and No. 72 nationally in scoring defense.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the loss ...
"Give Gardner-Webb credit. They hung in there and it was a hard-fought game. They made plays down the stretch that we unfortunately didn't make. It was tough loss for us."
On the second half ...
"They kept changing the defenses, zone to man. We never capitalized. We don't shoot a good percentage. We shoot 33 percent. We shoot 25 threes, mainly because of the zone. That's where the rebounding doesn't matter, especially if you are not making shots. I thought the eight turnovers in the first half hurt us. Even though we went into halftime with a three-point lead, we turned it over six times in the second half. I have to be fair to Andrew (Lawrence) and Anthony (Stitt). They are playing such high minutes. We never built a lead to use the bench. There was no relaxing. As the game wears on, fatigue starts to take place."
College of Charleston Senior Point Guard Andrew Lawrence
On the second half ...
"They're (Gardner-Webb) a really good team. They fought really hard tonight and we weren't able to make shots down the stretch. That's kind of what it comes down to. We held them to 55 points. You can't really expect us to do a whole lot more than that. They have a lot of firepower on the floor, so down the stretch, myself and my teammates have to make plays. We weren't able to do that tonight. It's a tough loss, but we definitely learned some stuff from it and we're going to get better. We learned we have to compete. Down the stretch, big-time rebounding. There's a few rebounds we missed that we have to have. I know we out-rebounded them tonight, but there were a few down the stretch that, we gave them second chances. Again, just making plays down the stretch, myself included. They competed throughout the game. It was literally just us missing shots, not concentrating, not following through. They held us to 52 points, so you have to give them a lot of credit."
On looking at the positive side that the team is still in a good position in conference play ...
"Obviously, it's pretty tough after a loss. We have to put everything into context. We're still doing pretty well in our conference. We still have a lot to play for. We'll get back to after Monday. We still have a Southern Conference championship to play for."
College of Charleston Junior Forward Trent Wiedeman
On the loss ...
"Gardner-Webb is a very, very good team. They are very well-coached. We were prepared for them. Like Andrew (Lawrence) said, 'we didn't make plays down the stretch and that's what it came down to.' There wasn't a single play in the game. There were a few plays that we messed up on and that made a difference in the game."