CofC Athletics Communications
CHARLESTON, S.C. – College of Charleston’s Joe Chealey (Orlando, Fla.) made a steal and pull-up three-pointer with 11 seconds remaining and then dished it to Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) for the game-winning layup with 1.7 seconds left as CofC overcame a seven-point deficit in the final 39 seconds to defeat Charlotte, 83-82, in its season home opener on Tuesday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (1-1) hit six three-pointers in the final six minutes to overcome a 69-55 deficit – Charlotte’s (1-1) largest lead of the second half of play.
The 49ers held the advantage for the last two minutes of the first half and the entire second half until CofC’s game-winner in the final seconds of regulation.
The Cougars went 12-of-28 from the three-point line (42.9 percent) and finished the game hitting 49.2 percent (31-of-63) from the field as a whole. CofC also outrebounded the 49ers, 40-35, including a 14-13 edge in offensive rebounds.
Redshirt freshman Canyon Barry (Colorado Springs, Colo.) led all scorers with 26 points, the most in his young career. He was a threat in all areas of the offensive half court, scoring from the perimeter, in the paint and down the baseline. He was 11-of-19 from the floor (57.8 percent) including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Chealey scored 13 of his career-high 18 points in the second half, finishing with a sparkling 7-of-11 (63.6 percent) shooting performance. His final 10 points in five minutes, including a game-changing steal and game-winning assist, pushed Charleston to its first win of the season.
Playing against his hometown team, Charlotte native and senior forward Hall posted his first double-double of the year with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Charlotte put five players in double figures, including a double-double from Willie Clayton (19 points and 13 rebounds) and a team-best, 21-point performance from Pierria Henry. Clayton led all players with eight offensive rebounds, helping to lead to 11 second-chance points for the 49ers. Terrence Williams had 16 points and eight boards.
CofC jumped out to a 17-8 lead in the first half after a three-pointer from Hall. The 49ers went on an 8-3 run to cut the margin to 20-16 and eventually took the lead at 28-27 after a dunk by Mike Thorne, Jr.
Barry and Hall scored all of Charleston’s points for the rest of the half as the Cougars went punch-for-punch with the Charlotte attack, tying the score at 38-38 with 2:52 left.
However, the 49ers ended the half on an 11-0 run, using two three-pointers from Shawn Lester in the final seconds to post a 49-38 halftime lead.
The Cougars tried to chip into the visitors’ lead through the first 10 minutes of the second half, pulling to within 56-51 after a Barry jumper at the 10:41 minute mark.
But Charlotte found ways to respond at every turn, pushing the lead to 14 after junior big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) picked up his fifth foul with over eight minutes left in the game.
Charleston’s run and momentum started at the 5:42 mark with Barry’s three and a steal and layup from Chealey, making it a single-digit game, 69-60.
The crowd began to feel it when senior Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) hit a three to pull it to 71-65 with 3:13 remaining.
But Charlotte slashed hopes again with a layup from Clayton followed by a defensive stop. Ultimately, however, three-pointers overtake free throws and Charleston kept hitting them down the stretch.
Chealey and Barry hit a pair with 1:24 to go to pull the margin to four, 75-71. More free throws from the 49ers see-sawed the lead to seven again, but a three-pointer from another Queen City native Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) with 31 seconds cut it to four again.
After two Charlotte free throws, Thomas hit one from charity and Hall grabbed the offensive rebound and went to the line himself, hitting another one-pointer to make it 82-78 with 15 seconds left.
Chealey stole the inbounds pass, took two steps and knocked down an ice-cold three-pointer, setting the building on fire with 11 seconds remaining and a one-point game.
Charlotte missed both subsequent free throws and Chealey drove the court with time expiring, wrapping a pass around two defenders to a wide-open Hall under the basket for the game-winner.
The Cougars continue their three-game homestand in seven short days with UNC Asheville (0-2) on Friday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. The game will be televised locally on MyTV Charleston.
· For the second-straight game, the Cougars went with the starting five of freshman Joe Chealey, junior Anthony Stitt, redshirt freshman Canyon Barry, senior Willis Hall and junior Adjehi Baru (1-1).
· With the win, the College of Charleston continues to close the gap in the all-time series with Charlotte, 9-11. It was both teams’ first meeting since another last-second, down-to-the-wire thriller at the North Charleston Coliseum (71-64) in 1994. CofC extends its streak in the series to three games.
· CofC Head Coach Doug Wojcik, who formerly coached for seven years in Conference USA at the University of Tulsa, also remains an unbeaten 3-0 in his coaching career versus the 49ers.
· For the second consecutive contest, Canyon Barry led the team in scoring with a game-and career-high 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the floor with three from long range.
· Willis Hall made the game-winning layup with one second left in regulation. He turned in his first double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds against Charlotte’s big front line.
· Joe Chealey also recorded a career-high 18 points including four three-pointers and one that turned the game around with 11 seconds left.
· The Cougars are now 12-1 in home openers since their inaugural campaign as a Division I member in 1991-92. They have won their last six consecutive home openers since 2008.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game and how he motivated the team in the final seconds to hold on for the win …
“The kids get all the credit. They made some unbelievable plays. Their performance was exceptional tonight. You just try to stay positive and try to encourage them. We kept hanging around and I’m really proud of those young guys for doing that. This one will go a long, long way for us.”
On freshman Joe Chealey’s performance …
“He didn’t panic. The steal and the three was a great play. I’ll be honest with you, we feel like we stole one here guys – he’s really, really good.”
College of Charleston Redshirt Freshman Guard Canyon Barry
On his 26-point performance…
“That’s my job. When you are open, you have to make shots. It was a great win for us. I really appreciate my teammates getting me open and passing the ball.”
On the atmosphere in TD Arena tonight …
“It was a great win for all of us. The atmosphere was incredible. Hopefully, we can keep giving the city of Charleston great wins like this.”
College of Charleston Freshman Point Guard Joe Chealey
On the game’s final sequence…
“I was just trying to make a play, honestly. We talked at the timeout and had a plan for each outcome, whether he made them both, missed one or missed both. They committed on the fast break and luckily Willis Hall was in the right spot – like he always is.”
On looking forward to the next game against UNC Asheville …
“We have to keep the big picture in mind. You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low regardless of whether you’re winning or losing. No matter how fun it was, no matter how great a game, we’ll have to let this go. We will come in tomorrow and we will practice. It’s about moving on.”
Charlotte Head Coach Alan Major
On the loss …
“A lot of credit to Doug (Wojcik) and his team. They kind of exemplify his nature. They kept on fighting. It was a heartbreaking loss for us. While you have that feeling and sting in your stomach, I’m very encouraged by how well we played. We are growing and developing. As you try to become a good team, you have to learn to finish. You hate to learn in this fashion. But, we have to learn to finish in the full 40 minutes. Very few teams win in this building (TD Arena).”