CofC Athletics Communications
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) rebounded an offensive miss and hit a baseline jumper with 3.8 seconds left to lift College of Charleston to a dramatic one-point win over Drexel, 47-46, on Thursday night at TD Arena.
The win snapped a brief, two-game skid for the Cougars (13-13, 5-6 CAA), who are now 4-1 in home league games. Drexel, picked to finish second in the preseason CAA poll, fell to 13-11 and 5-6 in conference play.
Hall’s last-second heroics marked his second dramatic game-winner at home this year after he hit a layup with time expiring to defeat Charlotte in the season opener on Nov. 12.
The game-winning shot was redemption for Hall as he didn’t score for the first 33 minutes of the game. However, the versatile graduate senior turned it on in the final seven minutes, finishing with nine points and 11 rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting from the field.
CofC, ranked No. 30 in the nation in scoring defense, held the high-flying Drexel offense to a season-low 46 points. Charleston posted a 46-38 edge in rebounding and held the Dragons to 32.1 percent (17-of-53) shooting from the field. Neither team shot well from the line as Drexel managed just 48.0 percent (12-of-25) and Charleston hit 54.2 percent (13-of-24) of its free throws.
Redshirt freshman guard Canyon Barry (Colorado Springs, Colo.) led CofC with 10 points marking his second consecutive double-digit performance. Freshman Joe Chealey (Orlando, Fla.) finished with eight points off the bench, while junior big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds and scored six points.
The CofC defense limited Drexel’s scoring combo of Chris Fouch and Frantz Massenat to a combined 22 points on a combined 7-of-24 shooting night. The duo came into the game averaging a combined 42.3 points per game in CAA play. Tavon Allen added 12 points for the Dragons in the loss.
It took CofC nearly 10 minutes to take its first lead of the game when Barry hit a reverse layup at the 10:36 minute mark to make it 10-9. The teams traded buckets over the next five minutes, but a jumper from Chealey with five minutes left gave CofC a 16-15 lead which it eventually expanded to a 24-18 halftime lead.
Drexel became far more aggressive in the second half, driving to the basket to draw contact and hard-earned layups. The Dragons went on a 15-6 run to open a 35-30 lead with 8:31 remaining in the game.
With the flow of the game slipping away from the Cougars, Hall came alive with two-straight buckets that cut Drexel’s lead to 37-34. Free throws from Chealey were followed by a huge three-pointer from junior Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) which allowed the home team to retake the lead, 40-39, with 4:02 left in regulation.
Hall converted a three-point play with 1:46 remaining on a slashing finger roll to put CofC up 43-30, but the Dragons answered with a jumper from Allen and dunk from Rodney Williams with 46 seconds left. A missed layup from Hall resulted in two made free throws and Drexel led by three, 46-43, with 23 seconds left on the clock.
Instead of opting for the tying shot, Chealey drove through the lane and drew the foul, hitting both free throws to bring the margin back to just one point, 46-45. Massenat then missed two free throws on the Drexel charity stripe, exciting the crowd and setting up Hall’s eventual game-winner.
After a Drexel player blocked a three-point attempt from Stitt, Hall grabbed the rebound, turned and put up a baseline jumper that ripped through the nets with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Fouch gave the Dragons a glimmer of hope as he went coast-to-coast in the final seconds, but his layup attempt bounced off the front of the rim and the Cougars held on for the victory.
College of Charleston will play the second of three-straight home games against Northeastern (8-18, 5-7 CAA) on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. The game will be televised live locally on MyTV Charleston and regionally on CSS.
· For the eighth time this season and eighth-straight game in CAA play, the Cougars went with the starting lineup 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 (3-5).
· With the win, College of Charleston remains an undefeated 3-0 in the all-time series with Drexel. It was both teams’ first meeting as members of the CAA and first since a non-conference meeting back in 1996.
· Canyon Barry turned in his second-straight game in double figures with a team-high 10 points off the bench for the Cougars.
· Willis Hall was just short of a double-double performance with nine points and 11 rebounds including the eventual game-winner.
· Adjehi Baru grabbed a team-and season-high tying 13 rebounds, his ninth game with double-digit boards this season. He has now recorded 680 career rebounds to date.
· Joe Chealey went a career-best 6-for-6 from the charity stripe including clutch free throws in the final minutes of regulation against Drexel. It was his second best free-throw performance behind going 4-for-4 at Old Dominion on Dec. 18.
· CofC, ranked No. 30 in the nation in scoring defense entering the ballgame, held Drexel to its lowest-scoring output of the season (46 points). They also held the Dragons to their second-lowest field-goal shooting percentage in a single game this season (32.1%) and 0-for-9 from beyond the arc. The Cougars also held the CAA’s third-leading scorer Chris Fouch (18.7 ppg) to single digits (6 points).
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game …
“It was a great win for us. We will take it. Offense was certainly not pretty for us, but on the positive side of things, we are one hell of a defensive team and can rebound. Going into this league, when you’re going to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, you’re going to face some kids that played in high-level high school basketball games. They are tough kids. We’ve laid the foundation for an incredible toughness here as we move forward in this conference for years to come. We hold them (Drexel) to no made three pointers. We hold them to 27 points below their scoring average in conference and we hold their leading scorer (Frantz Massenat) to 16 points when he’s averaging 22 (in CAA play). We also hold their second-leading scorer (Chris Fouch) to six points when he’s averaging 21.”
On Anthony Stitt’s last-second three-pointer from the corner on the last play of the game …
“We were trying to get downhill a little bit on the ball screens, so we went to the three guards that we started the season with, because we were struggling so much. All three of them did a good job of coming off the ball screens and driving it. That is certainly Canyon Barry’s strength and that is certainly Joe Chealey’s strength. We didn’t know where it was coming from, but we put it on them to make a play and they made a play.”
College of Charleston Graduate Senior Forward Willis Hall
On the last possession of the game …
“When they passed Canyon (Barry) the ball and he passed it up, I said, ‘I guess he wasn’t going to shoot it.’ As soon as it got tipped, I ran to it and I decided I was just going to get a shot up someway, somehow, and that is all I can tell you.”
College of Charleston Redshirt Freshman Guard Canyon Barry
On the physicality of the game and being more comfortable coming back from his injury …
“A lot of teams play really physical in the CAA. I think that was a big adjustment from the SoCon that our team had to make. The CAA has bigger wing players especially, so this game was a physical game, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. As far as coming back from my injury, I just try to come out every game and play a little bit better. I want to thank our strength coach, Marc Proto, for always working with me while I was out and Chris Horschel, our athletic trainer, for trying to do everything to get me back healthy. It’s working. It feels better every game, and hopefully, the tape will come off soon and I’ll be at full strength.”