Miami Holds Off Cougars' Second-Half Comeback, 70-54
CofC Athletics Communications
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Miami made important stops and hit several key layups to hold off a College of Charleston second-half comeback and pick up its first road win of the season, 70-54, in non-conference basketball action on Monday night at TD Arena.
The Hurricanes (3-1) were led by James Kelly’s 18 points as the defending ACC Champions quieted the raucous Charleston crowd of 4,018. The Cougars (1-3) dropped the third game of its four-game homestand, despite a strong shooting performance in the first half of play.
Miami finished shooting 51.0 percent (26-of-51) from the floor, including 7-of-11 from three-point land, to pull away from the Cougars midway through the first half. The Hurricanes scored 30 points in the paint and held just a 30-26 edge in rebounding.
Although the Cougars got the visitors into foul trouble, Charleston shot just 50 percent (11-of-22) from the free throw line. The Hurricanes turned 12 CofC turnovers into 16 points.
Redshirt senior forward Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) and freshman point guard Joe Chealey (Orlando, Fla.) led the Cougars in scoring with 12 points each. Hall also grabbed seven rebounds and made three assists.
Redshirt freshman Canyon Barry (Colorado Springs, Colo.), junior Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) and senior Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) all added eight points for CofC.
The Canes also had double-figure scoring efforts from Rion Brown (15 points) and Manu Lecomte (14 points). Lecomte led all players with five assists, and Donnavan Kirk nearly tallied a double-double with nine points and nine boards.
College of Charleston jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead in the first half after a rim-rocking alley-oop to Baru and a three-pointer and layup from Hall. Miami was able to tie the score at seven at the 16:12 minute mark and then used three treys to open up a 29-20 lead with 4:43 left in the half.
All the Miami scoring came as part of a 19-6 run in the final seven minutes of the half that left CofC trailing 40-25 at the break.
The Hurricanes’ lead ballooned to 20 with 10:19 remaining, 55-35, after a Kirk jumper in the paint. But, the Cougars were resilient, going on a 7-0 run with five points from Chealey and a steal and finish from Stitt to make the score 55-42.
The margin hovered there for a number of points until a pair of free throws from Thomas and a three from Stitt beat the shot clock and made it 62-53, bringing the crowd to its feet.
The Cougars were not able to get any closer as Lecomte scored the final eight points for Miami, six coming from the charity stripe.
CofC will reunite with former Southern Conference rival Furman (2-1) on the off day of the home-hosted ESPN Charleston Classic on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena.
· For the fourth time this season, the Cougars used the starting lineup of freshman Joe Chealey, junior Anthony Stitt, redshirt freshman Canyon Barry, senior Willis Hall and junior Adjehi Baru (1-3).
· It was both teams’ second-ever meeting on the hardwood and the first since the 1946-47 season when the two schools met in the last game of the season on March 6, 1947 in Bowling Green, Ky.
· Miami now leads 2-0 in the all-time series with College of Charleston. The Cougars will travel to Miami the next two years as part of the agreed series.
· Joe Chealey scored in double figures for the third time in four games with a team-high tying 12 points which were matched by Willis Hall, who turned in his second double-digit game of the season with 12.
· Miami snapped CofC’s two-game win streak against ACC opponents: Boston College (2012) and Clemson (2011).
· The Cougars committed a season-low 14 fouls against the Hurricanes and held the Miami to 70 points – five points under its scoring average (75.7 ppg) coming into the game.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game …
“Miami played really well tonight. They shot better than they have all year. It was the combination of their made threes and our missed free throws which widened the gap. It felt like they shot 70 percent in the first half. I love the way we started the game and started the second half. I thought we executed well. In the end, give them credit. They ran good offense and we didn’t shoot free throws very well at all. They are athletic and give (James) Kelly a lot of credit. He has played very well for them for three-straight games and that’s why he started tonight.”
On the team’s free-throw shooting and playing a team like Miami at home …
“It takes the wind out of your sails. No one is trying to miss free throws. We have to work on those and develop as we go through this tough stretch. The prize is in March. We are playing a tough schedule. We could go the other route (and not play a tough schedule), but we haven’t gone that route.”
On playing a familiar old Southern Conference foe in Furman on Saturday …
“It’s the next game. They are on the schedule for familiarity reasons. It worked out that we were able to keep Furman, The Citadel and Davidson on our schedule. It is the next game, so it’s the next important game to us.”
College of Charleston Redshirt Senior Forward Willis Hall
On the game …
“I felt like we were in it the whole time and competing with them (Miami). We just dug ourselves into a hole and couldn’t get out. They just ended up being the better team tonight.”
On the team’s expectations going into the game in front of an ACC opponent …
“I expect to win every game we play here, regardless of who it is. We prepare the same, we work the same, day-in and day-out – we give 100 percent.”
College of Charleston Freshman Point Guard Joe Chealey
On the game …
“We started off pretty fast and did a good job of executing the game plan. Free throws. We went 11-of-22 from the line, and if we made more of those, it could have been a different game.”
Miami Head Coach Jim Larrañaga
On the College of Charleston …
“Coming into the game, having watched the College of Charleston and knowing Coach (Doug) Wojcik – he’s a disciple of (Michigan State Head Coach) Tom Izzo and also the (North) Carolina system – we were very concerned, because they are very fast-tempo and run their offense extremely well. As their freshmen gain more experience and confidence, they will be awfully good in the CAA.”
On the adjustments he made to counter CofC’ s offensive proficiency …
“We had to make immediate adjustments in our defense. We quit trapping the ball screen and we started switching. As the game went on, we also used a little zone which we hadn’t done all year and we seemed to play better defense after the initial four-or-five possessions of both halves.”
Miami Junior Forward James Kelly
On his team’s performance …
“We just came out mentally prepared – ready to go. As a team, we’re starting to gel together more and more and starting to understand how each of us plays.”