To say that Coastal Carolina and College of Charleston are the two best teams in the state of South Carolina isn't too far of a stretch. That's the angle most of the local media had been using leading into Thursday night's matchup.The University of South Carolina seems to be having a down year while both teams went to Clemson and beat them. Both also have wins over SEC schools at home with CCU beating LSU and CofC taking down Tennessee. While Charleston Southern and Wofford may have something to say about state supremacy by the end of the year, this game was going to be a big challenge for both teams.
I was glad to be back from my Michigan holiday vacation. It's great seeing family and all, but I literally didn't see the sun in 8 days. It barely snowed at all, but I could only take so much of the grey gloominess that comes with a winter in the midwest. On my return, I was greeted with a sunny day and a high of 77. I really couldn't ask for more than the beautiful weather this late in December leading up to the game.
I was wondering how Charleston would respond after playing 3 highly emotional games. First was the aforementioned win against Tennessee, followed by a close win against cross town rival Charleston Southern. They followed that up with a close loss on the road against Louisville. How would the Cougars respond after going into their 4th big game in 8 days?
On the other side the Chanticleers were coming off a blowout loss to East Carolina. The Pirates implemented a 2-3 zone that CCU couldn't solve. Florida International applied a zone in the only other loss for the Chants, so many were wondering if Charleston would go the same route.
As is the case all around the country, CCU is on holiday break leading to available seats in the student section. CCU didn't have a problem selling out the arena as a sizable contingent from Charleston made the short trip north.
The fans were very puzzled at the beginning of the game as Charleston was being awarded 4 free throws before the tip-off. Andrew Lawrence easily sank all 4 to give the Cougars a lead before the clock even started. The PA guy finally announced that Coastal had 2 Class B technicals called on them. No one around knew what that exactly meant since it's not like any of us had a rulebook handy. I came to find out from a text from a friend that CCU was dunking in warmups which apparently is a rule that I had no clue about.
Despite the early deficit, the Chants were able to erase it quickly. The first 10 minutes of the game were hotly contest as both teams were trading shots. Charleston took charge of the game surprisingly behind Matt Sundberg who was having the best half of his career. The reserve who was only averaging 6 points a game was hitting deep NBA range 3's with ease leading to 15 1st half points. Coastal was trying to respond but were clanging outside shots when the Cougars jumped into a zone. Sundberg punctuated the half by drilling a half court shot as time expired leading to loud roar from the visiting Charleston crowd.
Things looked bleak in the early stages of the 2nd half for CCU as Charleston extended their lead to 17 after a 4 point play by Antwaine Wiggins. The Cougars had all the momentum and looked like they were on there way to an easy win, but Coastal did make a final push. A balanced effort got the Chanticleers to within 3 points as the arena got pretty loud considering the lack of students. CCU looked to take the lead, but the rally would fall short. Lawrence and Wiggins ended up hitting several daggers to push the lead back up to double digits. While the Cougars had a bit of trouble putting the game away at the free throw line, the Chants ran out of time with Charleston coming up with a 7 point win.
Charleston picked up another impressive road win and can say they are the best team in the state. They will be a favorite to win the SoCon and will probably get better as super recruit Adjehi Baru develops. Coastal is on a bit of a downswing after a promising start and will have to figure out how to bust a zone before Big South play begins.
It was a fun game to go to before Christmas and just wanted to wish all fellow 800GPers a Happy Holidays.
CHARLESTON 77, at COASTAL CAROLINA 70 12/22/2011
CHARLESTON 10-2 (2-0) -- A. Wiggins 3-8 5-5 13; A. Lawrence 4-10 7-8 18; A. Baru 4-8 0-0 8; A. Stitt 2-6 3-6 7; M. Sundberg 6-8 0-0 17; T. Wiedeman 4-8 1-2 9; J. Scott 1-5 2-2 5; N. Johnson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 18-23 77. COASTAL CAROLINA 9-3 (2-0) -- S. McLaurin 7-12 0-0 14; K. Greenwood 3-10 2-3 9; A. Raffa 7-17 2-2 17; D. Nieman 3-4 0-0 8; J. Pack 4-5 0-0 8; C. Gradnigo 4-15 0-0 9; W. Gillis 2-2 0-0 5; B. Crawford 0-0 0-0 0; D. Moore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-65 4-5 70.
Three-point goals: COFC 11-24 (A. Wiggins 2-5; M. Sundberg 5-7; A. Lawrence 3-5; N. Johnson 0-1; J. Scott 1-4; A. Stitt 0-2), CCU 6-15 (C. Gradnigo 1-3; A. Raffa 1-6; D. Nieman 2-2; K. Greenwood 1-3; W. Gillis 1-1); Rebounds: COFC 30 (A. Baru 7), CCU 33 (S. McLaurin 11); Assists: COFC 12 (A. Lawrence 7), CCU 15 (K. Greenwood 6); Total Fouls -- COFC 10, CCU 19; Fouled Out: COFC-None; CCU-None.