Game #9-168: Anderson at Charleston CougarsDecember 13, 2012 7:00 pm
Carolina First Center
The College of Charleston has been playing basketball for most of the last century. Along with the city of Charleston, the university has grown. So has their basketball program. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, they spent their time in the NAIA. In the NAIA, they played in District 6 mostly.This consisted of most of the universities of South Carolina. Until the early 1980s, only five Division I schools were in the NCAA in SC. You had Clemson in the ACC, South Carolina, The Citadel and Furman in the Southern Conference, and South Carolina State.
Most of the other schools were in the NAIA. At one point, every Division I school in SC except for those five (except Baptist College, who had already moved up), was in District 6. This meant for some serious rivalries. The goal was to get to the NAIA national tournament, usually held in Kansas City. The winners of each district (16 in all) made the tournament. CofC won a national title in 1983 in KC, winning a game over Chaminade, who had defeated #1
Virginia earlier that season.CofC was in a steady growth process in the 80s, and decided to move up. In 1991, they started Division I play. They were supposed to go to the Big South, but instead went to the TAAC. No schools from South Carolina were in this league. The league had teams from all over the nation. It was a revolving door depending on realignment.
CofC had two league opponents in Louisiana. They were the only team from SC in the TAAC. In 1998-99, they moved up to the Southern Conference. They joined Wofford, Furman and The Citadel in that league, making several new rivalries. This year, they just announced a move to the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association), again leaving the South Carolina teams behind.
Through all of this, they had never played Anderson. For good reason. Until 1991, Anderson was a junior college, a two-year institution. It became a college in 1991, then a university in 2006. The school is in the South Atlantic Conference, a bus league with no team west of Jefferson City, TN or east of Salisbury, NC. The university has grown into a strong Division II program. Their main rival is Erskine, about 20 miles down the road in tiny Due West, SC. They play them in all sports even though they left Erskine's conference. The team plays in a 1,000 seat gym, the Abney Athletic Center. Anderson has about 2,500 students, and two-thirds of those are women. The school around South Carolina is mostly known as a teachers' university, as they have a good reputation for teacher cadets in the high school level. Their biggest win in the regular season was last season when they upset #1
Lincoln Memorial in OT in Anderson. In 2011, they made the Elite 8 of NCAA Division II, upsetting Augusta State on their home court before losing to West Liberty in Springfield, MA.
Anderson though, had rarely played a Division I program. On the season, they were 6-2 at the time. They were coming off a loss to Limestone College in Gaffney the night before and were in a stretch of 3 games in 4 days. CofC, on the other hand, was blown out by a top 5 team, Louisville. PG Andrew Lawrence suffered an ankle injury during the game, which would be a big factor. Trent Wiedeman is still hurt from the injury he suffered during the Auburn game. Anderson was counting this as an exhibition game on their schedule. CofC counted this as a regular season game. This was the first Division II team they had played in seven years, which was when Tom Herrion was the coach. Before the season, fans were complaining about the Cougars playing a team like this. Most SoCon teams, however, play teams in the lower levels of college basketball. Usually it is a Division III, NAIA or lower team that they play. Few of them play a team like Anderson.
After their game against Limestone, the team drove down in three vans from Anderson; only getting to Charleston 90 minutes before tipoff for shootaround. CofC was on a nine-day break for exams, and without two of their best players.This crowd was one of the smallest at TD Arena. The arena was less than half-full because of exams, and because of the opponent CofC was playing. Exams ended the day before, so the student section was not very crowded. CofC was projected to win in a blowout, just like most D1 vs. D2 games. Anderson was only given a 3% chance to win via the Massey Ratings. Anderson, though, had 3 Division I transfers. One was Bo Holston, who had started at The Citadel last year. He averaged 5 points a game, and made some big plays; including a game-tying dunk against Georgia Southern to send the game to OT. The other two were Chandler Sash and Nick Jackson. They were transfers from USC-Upstate and Dartmouth, respectively.
This game was a shocker from the beginning. Anderson took the lead from almost the beginning. CofC held one lead at 3-2 in the first half. Anderson was not only playing with the more athletic Cougars; they were, sad to say, rolling over them.
CofC was down by sixteen points, 30-14 over halfway through the first half. The fans assembled at TD Arena, including my dad, were stunned. Anderson was hitting shots all over the place: 3-pointers, drives to the basket, dunks, outside layups. CofC turned the ball over 19 times in the game, but a good amount of those were in the first half. They were lucky to be down 37-30 at halftime after a tip-in at the buzzer. It could have been worse. An Australian basketball team was in the house watching this game. They probably were expecting an easy game; they didn't get it.The second half was when the Trojans played really well, while CofC was having a really bad twenty minutes. Anthony Thomas had eight turnovers; and the Cougars only made six field goals in the second half. They only made 16 field goals for the entire game. Anderson stretched out the lead even more; at one point late in the game, it was 65-42.Anderson had a lead of 23 points against a team that had already defeated Boston College, and upset top 25 ranked Baylor on the road; a team who had beaten Kentucky at Rupp Arena the next Saturday. Many of the fans were so mad that they left early. Even some of the die-hard fans who never leave games early were leaving.
CofC had a 7-0 run to end the game, making the final 65-49. Anderson not only went into TD Arena against a bigger and faster Division I team, but dominated them in the second half. Nobody, even the Anderson players, could have predicted an outcome like that. It was the largest win by a D2 program over a D1 on their home court in four seasons. Anderson's fans celebrated after the game, as expected.
This was probably the biggest win ever for an Anderson team. Anderson hadn't beaten a Division I team at least in the last decade, maybe in their entire 21-year history as a D1 program. This win got them lots of publicity; Anderson highlights led WSPA Channel 7's sportscast, was shown on WYFF 4's sports, and was all over the newspapers, radio and TV stations throughout South Carolina. For CofC though, it was a much different outcome. They now had 5 days to prepare for Old Dominion, and try to get back from their worst loss in 11 years (when they lost to Belmont Abbey in 2001).
Anderson, on the other hand, lost to Winston Salem State in their next game. Anderson will continue Division II play, hoping to match their 2011 appearance of making Springfield and the Elite 8. College basketball is a funny game sometimes. Anderson capitalized on the College of Charleston's mistakes, and came out with a program-defining victory. ANDERSON 65, at CHARLESTON 49
CHARLESTON 5-4 (1-0) -- A. Baru 3-11 5-10 11; A. Stitt 1-6 0-0 2; A. Thomas 2-7 3-4 7; W. Hall 2-5 0-0 5; M. Sundberg 2-8 3-4 9; N. Johnson 4-6 0-1 10; T. Johnson 2-5 0-2 5; P. Branin 0-0 0-0 0; T. Dixon 0-0 0-0 0; H. Bowne 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-48 11-21 49.
Three-point goals: - , COFC 6-14 (M. Sundberg 2-6; W. Hall 1-1; N. Johnson 2-2; A. Stitt 0-2; T. Johnson 1-2; A. Thomas 0-1); Rebounds: , COFC 36 (A. Baru 14); Assists: , COFC 8 (A. Stitt 6); Total Fouls -- , COFC 8; Fouled Out: -; COFC-None.