ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Senior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England) registered 19 points and redshirt junior forward Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) turned in his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds as third-seeded College of Charleston got past second-seeded Elon, 68-60, in the semifinals of the 2013 Southern Conference Tournament held on Saturday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The Cougars (24-9) advance to tomorrow’s title game where they will face top-seeded Davidson (25-7) in the their fourth appearance in the SoCon title game over the last seven years – the most of any league school ahead of Davidson (3) and Wofford (2). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) and the game will be televised live nationally on ESPN2.
CofC opened the ballgame on an 11-0 run including three-point daggers from Hall, sophomore Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) and junior Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.). The Cougars later added an 8-0 stretch in the half to lead 25-19 at halftime.
In the second half of play, CofC led by double figures through the first seven minutes, but the Phoenix (21-11) kept chipping away at the deficit and brought it within two on a layup by Josh Bonner, 46-44, at the 7:09 minute mark.
Hall scored the next seven points to stretch it out to a nine-point lead, 53-44, on two made free throws with 5:03 remaining in regulation.
Elon’s Kevin Blake hit a foul shot to pull the Phoenix within 60-56 with 28 seconds remaining, but the Cougars hit 8-of-8 free throws to secure their fourth-straight victory.
Lucas Troutman paced Elon with a game-high 23 points, while Bonney added 15 off the bench.
Thomas ended the night with 10 points, while Stitt added seven and sophomore big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) with a near double-double with eight points and nine rebounds.
CofC, who will join the Colonial Athletic Association in July, is vying for its first SoCon championship title and NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999 under first-year head coach Doug Wojcik.
· For the 27th time this season, CofC went with the starting five of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, redshirt junior Willis Hall and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (22-5).
· With the win, the Cougars are now 2-1 all-time versus Elon in Southern Conference Tournament games and 13-5 in the all-time series having now won six of the last seven meetings between the two schools.
· CofC, who will join the Colonial Athletic Association in July, will make its sixth all-time appearance (1-4) in the finals of the SoCon Tournament next to 1999, 2000, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
· Willis Hall registered his fifth career double-double, third of the season, with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds against Elon. He has grabbed double-digit boards on eight occasions this year including in two of the last three games.
· CofC is now 22-1 when scoring 60-or-more points in a ballgame this season with 68 total points versus Elon in the semifinals.
· Andrew Lawrence turned in a team-high 19 points including a 7-of-9 performance from the free throw line against Elon. He currently has tabulated 1,186 career points to date which moved him into the top 25 all-time in career scoring in the CofC record books. He surpassed former greats in Jermel President (1,175) and Wes Champion (1,171) and now ranks 24th-best in program history.
· Anthony Thomas scored in double figures for the second consecutive contest with 10 points against Elon next to a career-high 18 versus Western Carolina in the quarterfinals on March 9.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the importance of bouncing back from last year’s disappointing first-round loss …
“It’s probably that way because of the importance of it and it being the semifinal and getting to a championship game, especially these guys. When they lost in the opening round of the tournament last year, and I give them a lot of credit, they really hung in there and battled. I look at the numbers and we are really shooting the ball well as a team. From the field, from the three-point line and the free throw line. It’s remarkable for a team that wasn’t shooting free throws well this season, so I’m very proud of that particular performance. We just need to manage the clock down the stretch. It was a great game and the best two teams are in the finals tomorrow.”
College of Charleston Senior Point Guard Andrew Lawrence
On his game and the team tonight …
“My teammates gave me a lot of confidence to come out in the second half. I missed a lot of shots in the game before this (against Western Carolina) and this game. I always have a lot of confidence in myself and my teammates always have my back and give me support. Luckily, I was able to make some shots tonight, and my other teammates really came through tonight, like Willis (Hall). I am so proud of them. It was a great game to play in, but we have a bigger game tomorrow to look forward to (against Davidson).”
College of Charleston Redshirt Junior Forward Willis Hall
On the up-and-down tempo of the game …
“Elon is one of those of those teams where you never know, no matter how high you can get on them, you can’t think that you’re too good, because they’ll come right back on you. They have great shooters like Lucas Troutman, who is probably one of the top post players in the conference right now. When you get out, you have to keep putting them down repeatedly and not give up that lead. We’re two pretty good defensive teams. They defend and we defend, so we were in for a good one tonight. There was no blow out. It was back-and-forth the entire time.”