College basketball is a funny game sometimes. That's what makes it what it is. Anything can happen any time. Presbyterian came back from 15 down to beat Cincinnati. Every team has a shock to their system. Comebacks occur at almost any point. Games can mean anything.
The College of Charleston was a heavy favorite to beat Chattanooga on Saturday at TD Arena. Chattanooga, preseason pick by many not only to win the North Division of the Southern Conference, but the entire league, started off 2-5 with a loss to Gardner-Webb and a two-point home win against Savannah State. They lost to Georgia Southern on Thursday night in a 84-76 game that was much more lopsided than it appeared.
People on the Chattanooga and CofC message boards had different thoughts. Chattanooga fans thought it was going to be a big blowout for CofC. CofC fans thought it was going to be close. One poster on one of the boards (a Moc fan) said that Chattanooga's chance to win this game was "1 in 50."
But that's why they play the games.
A smaller than usual crowd showed up at TD Arena for this game. Like most places in the South, football is king. Big schools Georgia and Clemson were in their high-major conference championships. This probably took some fans from the crowd. Others were studying for exams. The Christmas season also held down the crowd.
The game was a weird one to see for all involved. Neither team could shoot worth a lick in the first few minutes. Neither team broke 10 until almost midway through the first half. The crowd was quiet and very restless. CofC took a lot of three-pointers, more than almost any other team I've seen. In the game, they took 43 three-pointers.
Chattanooga controlled the game for most of the first half and took a 26-21 lead at the half, which very easily could have been more. Several of the partisan fans booed the Cougs off the floor at the break. More fans cheered for a presentation for ovarian cancer awareness than most of the plays in the first half.
Andrew Goudelock, one of the biggest stars in College of Charleston history, played a pick-up game with two ball boys before tip-off. He also did color for the game on the radio and participated in a contest.
The second half began and wasn't much different. CofC got five quick points to tie the score at 26 but they sputtered and were down nine points with 12 minutes to go. People were about to head for the exits. The Cougars hadn't lost a conference home game since February 2010 against The Citadel, and this streak looked like it would come to an end.
However, CofC came out and went on a big run. They went up 60-54 with just over three minutes to go and the crowd went crazy. The student section bleachers were bouncing and everyone was on their feet. Chattanooga, with their senior-laden team, didn't give up.
Omar Wattad, the Georgetown transfer of a couple years back, made a fadeaway three to give the Mocs a 63-60 lead with just over a minute left. Each team exchanged foul shots, but it looked like Chattanooga would pull out a big win. They nailed their free throws and were up 67-63 with just 12.1 seconds left.
The Cougars chances of pulling out the game looked slim. They came back, though, after Andrew Lawrence drained a three to cut it to one. Keegan Bell made the first FT but missed the second. It was 68-66. Lawrence went down the floor, hoping to tie or win the game. He made a layup in the paint to tie it at 68 with 1.2 left. After a missed shot from half court, the game went to OT, after CofC trailed by 4 with only 12 seconds on the clock.
The place went crazy. All of the students were jumping up and down, and everyone was high-fiving everybody else. Everyone realized they were in for a fight.
Chattanooga came down and took a four-point lead early in the overtime. Charleston came back to tie it. Chattanooga missed a open 3, and CofC got the rebound with over 35 seconds left, and a shot to win it. The problem was, PG Andrew Lawrence forgot about the shot clock. He dribbled the clock out, and the shot clock ran out, just before Trent Wiedeman nailed a three.
The Mocs now had a chance to win it. CofC stole it, called a timeout, but couldn't get the next shot off in .3 seconds. We went to double overtime.
The second overtime was a fierce battle. Each team traded leads throughout the overtime. All of the fans thought it was over when Antwane Wiggins made two free throws to make the score 86-82. The entire place was dead silent. The Mocs made a desperation three to cut the deficit to one. They fouled. Anthony Stitt made one of two FTs, and it was 87-85.
Keegan Bell tried a half-court shot which didn't hit anything, and the Cougars escaped with an 87-85 win. Very few people thought before the game that Chattanooga would even have a chance. The only people that did were the 15 Chattanooga fans and the players and coaches. They nearly pulled off an upset in one of the best games of the early season.
at CHARLESTON 87, CHATTANOOGA 85 12/03/2011
CHATTANOOGA 2-6 (0-2) -- K. Bell 4-13 3-4 12; D. Zlovaric 2-8 0-2 4; C. Early 7-13 0-0 18; O. Wattad 3-9 1-1 9; R. Taylor 5-12 4-4 17; R. White 3-4 3-3 11; D. Hampton 5-6 0-0 12; J. Burroughs 1-2 0-0 2; Z. Mason 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 30-69 11-14 85. CHARLESTON 7-1 (2-0) -- A. Wiggins 4-15 4-4 14; A. Lawrence 8-19 4-6 25; T. Wiedeman 3-5 9-13 15; A. Stitt 7-14 3-5 20; A. Baru 2-4 1-1 5; M. Sundberg 0-4 2-2 2; J. Scott 2-6 0-0 6; N. Johnson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-68 23-31 87.
Three-point goals: CHAT 14-26 (K. Bell 1-7; O. Wattad 2-6; D. Hampton 2-2; C. Early 4-4; R. Taylor 3-5; R. White 2-2), COFC 12-43 (A. Wiggins 2-10; M. Sundberg 0-4; A. Lawrence 5-13; N. Johnson 0-1; J. Scott 2-5; A. Stitt 3-10); Rebounds: CHAT 41 (K. Bell 10), COFC 41 (A. Wiggins 12); Assists: CHAT 18 (K. Bell 10), COFC 10 (A. Lawrence 5); Total Fouls -- CHAT 26, COFC 16; Fouled Out: CHAT-D. Zlovaric; COFC-None.