CofC Athletics Communications
CHARLESTON, S.C. – College of Charleston tied a season high with 12 three-pointers en route to a 75-61 win over James Madison in the program’s first-ever game as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association on Tuesday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (9-7, 1-0 CAA) won their fourth game in a row and started the conference schedule strong with the victory over the defending CAA champion Dukes (6-10, 1-1 CAA).
CofC’s three-point barrage doomed the Dukes’ zone from the beginning as leading scorer Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) nailed three consecutive treys to open the game. Charleston’s 12 buckets from long distance tied CofC’s long-distance output from its season opener versus Charlotte.
As a team, the Cougars finished the game shooting 42.2 percent (25-of-59) from the field and a season-best 52.2 percent (12-of-23) from long range.
The Cougars also tied a season high with 18 offensive rebounds as Charleston smashed JMU on the boards, 44-27. It marked the ninth time in the last 10 games that CofC has outrebounded its opponent.
Stitt tied a career high with 23 points as he hit a season-high five three-pointers and finished 7-of-13 from the field. He added three assists and did not turn the ball over in his best performance of the season.
JMU’s zone defense was easy pickings for senior reserve Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.), who continued his hot streak with an 18-point outburst, tying a career high with five three-pointers.
Senior Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) tallied his first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Joe Chealey (Orlando, Fla.) turned in 12 points with three assists.
Junior big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) had 10 rebounds and six points, his fifth double-figure rebounding game of the year.
JMU’s Charles Cooke led the Dukes with 21 points and six rebounds, while Andrey Semenov contributed 19.
Andre Nation played in his first game back this season, but only managed seven points. The Dukes shot 56.3 percent from the free throw line (9-of-16) and 40.7 percent from the field (22-of-54).
After Stitt’s three treys opened the game, JMU rallied to tie the score at 18. Charleston responded with a 10-4 run to build its largest lead thus far at 28-22 after a jumper from sophomore Theo Johnson (Sacramento, Calif.).
Chealey broke a nearly four-minute scoring drought with a layup at the 3:36 minute mark and a three-pointer at the buzzer from Stitt put Charleston up 38-31 at the break.
JMU slowly clawed at CofC’s lead in the second half and nearly broke through at the 11:51 minute mark when a three-pointer from Semenov tied the game at 49-all.
Charleston responded with a 12-point run, punctuated with two threes from Nori Johnson. Ron Curry hit a three-pointer for JMU, but Johnson responded with yet another three just seconds later that brought the house down with 6:29 left in regulation.
The Dukes never got the game within single digits again as CofC remained undefeated in the two-game all-time series between both schools.
College of Charleston hits the road for its first conference trip up North at Hofstra on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 4 p.m. (ET) in Hempstead, N.Y.
· For the fourth time this year, the Cougars used the starting lineup of junior guard Anthony Stitt, freshman guard Johnathan Burroughs-Cook, senior small forward Anthony Thomas, graduate senior forward Willis Hall and junior forward Adjehi Baru (3-1).
· A season-best crowd of 4,163 fans were in attendance to witness CofC’s first-ever game as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. Grammy Award-winning musician Darius Rucker sang the national anthem to celebrate a new era of Cougar Basketball. CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager was also in attendance.
· With the win, the College of Charleston remains an undefeated 2-0 in the all-time series with James Madison. It was the first meeting between the two schools in CAA play and first since a non-conference contest in the championship game of the Jim ‘N Nick’s Cougar Classic in December of 2007.
· The Cougars have now won seven consecutive conference openers dating back to the 2007-08 season. They have also won all three of their first-ever conference games in the program’s NCAA Division I history (1991-Present) having last been members of the Trans America Athletic Conference (1993-98) and the Southern Conference (1998-2013).
· Anthony Stitt knocked down his most first-half points of the season with 14 and recorded a career-high tying 23 points for the game. He previously registered 10 first-half points at The Citadel on Dec. 29 and a career-best 23 points against UMass at the Battle 4 Atlantis in 2011 in the Bahamas.
· Anthony Thomas registered his first career double-double with 10 points and a career-high tying 11 rebounds. It marked his fourth game to score in double figures this year.
· Nori Johnson came off the bench and turned in his third double-digit game in the last four contests with a season-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and 5-of-9 shooting from downtown against James Madison.
· CofC drained a season-high tying 12 three-pointers in the contest including a season-best seven in the first half of play with a career-best tying five each from Stitt and Johnson.
· Freshman guard Joe Chealey tied a season-high with eight first-half points against the Dukes. He ended the night with 12 points and three assists.
· Willis Hall brought down nine rebounds to move him into a tie for eighth all-time in career rebounding (fourth in CofC’s Division I history) with 705 career boards. He surpassed former teammate Antwaine Wiggins (2007-12) and is tied with Kevan Elliott (1973-77) on the all-time list.
· Defensively, CofC, who ranks No. 25 in the nation in scoring defense and leads the Colonial in the same stat category, held JMU to its third-lowest scoring output of the season (61 points).
· The Cougars are now 2-3 this season against 2013 NCAA Tournament opponents defeating defending SoCon champion Davidson and defending CAA champion JMU.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the program’s first-ever CAA win …
“I thought it was a great atmosphere. The students got here early and we had a little meeting with some of the student leaders in the locker room before the game. The students really turned out and we really appreciated that. The crowd was great. I thought it gave us a lot of energy, especially when Anthony Stitt makes three threes to start the game. We knew how important it was for our team and for our fans. It’s pretty exciting to be able to score 75 points without Willis (Hall) and Adjehi (Baru) having big games.”
On hitting threes against the zone …
“It really opens things up and we were lucky that we were ready for them. They play a flat 2-3 zone and all we did for three days was practice to be ready for it. We can’t always entertain, but we sure can compete and fight with toughness. When our guys are making shots, it makes everything a lot easier for Adjehi (Baru) by giving him more space and it gives everyone else opportunities.”
College of Charleston Junior Guard Anthony Stitt
On getting good looks against James Madison’s zone …
“We were prepared. Whether it was kick-out threes or ball-reversal threes, we knew what kind of looks we were going to get. So when I had the opportunity and the space, I stepped up and took those shots with confidence. We do a lot of second-shot shooting in practice and that’s basically what it was like tonight.”
College of Charleston Senior Forward/Guard Nori Johnson
On his 18-point performance against James Madison …
“When you have two of your best scorers Adjehi (Baru) and Willis (Hall) go 2-of-14 from the field, other guys have to step up. I took that as a personal challenge to step up and help my team. It starts with defense, but like Coach (Wojcik) said, ‘they were in a 3-2 zone’ and we were prepared to hit step-in jumpers and that got me rolling.”
On playing against a zone defense …
“When I see a zone, my eyes do light up. If I’m open for a step-in shot, I’ll take it, and hopefully, hit it.”
James Madison Head Coach Matt Brady
On the game …
“Give Charleston all of the credit in the world in this game tonight. They played great. They were really physical. They beat the heck out of us on the glass. They shot tremendously. From the way they shot the ball, that was a tremendous performance by them. Congratulations. I think Doug (Wojcik) does a great job. It was their first CAA game. We knew they would play well. They played with a lot of emotion tonight.”
James Madison Sophomore Guard Charles Cooke
On the loss on the road …
“We had a few mental errors. It wasn’t fatigue at all. We had a few errors and at this level, playing on the road in a conference game, it cost us a loss.”