Game #9-218: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at Charleston CougarsDecember 22, 2012 12:00 pm
Carolina First Center
Usually when I go to see a game, I have to do a little bit of research to try to familiarize myself with the opponents. In the early season, there are new players and non-conference games with teams I do not normally get a chance to see on a regular basis. This would not be a problem for me when I traveled down to Charleston see Coastal Carolina square off against the College of Charleston.
Being a Coastal season ticket holder, I have an obvious familiarity with the team despite all of the new faces on the roster at the beginning of the season. While I am not a season-ticket holder for Charleston, my comfort level with most of the players is solid since there was not much turnaround on the roster and I had already seen the Cougars play four times this year.
Even the drive to Charleston is something I have made several times now as I am getting familiar with the downtown road system which can be confusing with the plethora of one-way streets. I also have a parking garage I like to park at that is usually pretty empty and always has an attendant, meaning I will never be stranded like I had been once last year.
To say the play of both teams has seen its ups and downs would be an understatement. Coastal Carolina opened its season with a good win against perennial MAC powerhouse Akron. What looked like a good start took a nosedive as the Chanticleers proceeded to lose all of its games against DI competition. When Clemson rolled into town it was thought that it would be more of the same, but CCU ended up dismantling the ACC foe. Winning was not out of the realm of possibility for Coastal, but it was the margin of victory that surprised a lot.
I follow several of the Coastal players on twitter and they seemed to be very proud of themselves after the big win. It was a great win and all, but in the end it is only one win in a long season. I was hoping the win would not make them too overconfident against a strong Charleston squad.
Charleston has gone on a roller coaster ride itself, having to play through the Charleston Classic against three teams from above the Red Line. They followed that up with emotional wins against Charleston Southern and Elon. Next was the big win for the Cougars when they beat Baylor in Waco. The Cougars may have been too overconfident themselves because they were pasted by Louisville in their next game and then embarrassed by Anderson (S.C.) in a black-line upset. After being humbled it seemed like the Cougars got things back together when they pulled away late against Old Dominion.
This would be the final meeting in a four-year scheduling deal between the two schools. Coastal's season-opening win three years ago against the Cougars kicked off the successful stretch the Chanticleers have had the past three seasons. The Cougars took the next two games and I personally hope the two schools can agree to continue the series in the future.
Things started at a snail's pace in the first few minutes as each team took their time trying to develop something on offense. This led to some low-scoring, half-court basketball. Both the Cougars and Chanticleers were ending up with good looks, but the shots were not falling and the score was stuck on 7-4 for quite a while.
Frustration started to kick in for Coastal as guards Anthony Raffa and Kierre Greenwood forced some tough shots that were either swatted away or missed badly. The Cougars took advantage with the three ball and got treys from Anthony Stitt and Andrew Lawrence.
The very slow pace would not allow the Chants to make a sustained run as the offense continued to sputter. Charleston was taking care of the ball, a trend that is promising for the Cougars since they had trouble with that earlier in the season. Opportunities were slim for Coastal and you could tell Raffa was getting flustered with repeated double teams and ball denials. The only real offense CCU could muster were dish outs to El Hadji Ndieguene for jumpers at the top of the key. He had 10 of Coastal Carolina's 19 first-half points, but Charleston wasn't exactly tearing it up either and the Cougars only had a seven-point lead at the half.
Usually when a team struggles on offense in the first half, they usually start to amp things up coming out of halftime. This would not be the case for Coastal as consecutive turnovers would help Charleston score the first six points out of the gate. From that point on, the Cougars would maintain a near double-digit lead, led by the play of Stitt on offense and a total defensive effort on the other side of the ball.
Raffa, who was the nation's leading scorer earlier in the year, was having a miserable game. After he fouled Stitt on a superhoop attempt, which led to three makes from the line, he was benched with a little over 10 minutes to go and never saw action the rest of the way. He ended up with no points in probably his worst game as a Chanticleer.
With Raffa a non-factor there needed to be someone else to step up for Coastal, but that player never came. Charleston kept adding to the lead as a Nori Johnson three extended the lead to 21 with over six minutes to go. Some late garbage time points would make the final deficit nine, but make no mistake; Charleston played a complete game and dominated the Chants.
With so many newcomers for Coastal, you can tell they need to learn how to react to winning emotional games. Charleston seems to be dealing with the early-season ebbs and flows quite well as they are improving after the dreadful two-game stretch. The season is a long haul and hopefully both teams will learn from this and not get such a big head anytime they get a big win in the conference season.
at CHARLESTON 60, COASTAL CAROLINA 51
COASTAL CAROLINA 4-6 (0-0) -- K. Greenwood 6-12 4-4 17; E. Ndieguene 7-12 0-2 14; U. Ljeskovic 3-5 2-4 8; M. Enanga 2-2 2-3 7; W. Gillis 0-3 0-0 0; A. Raffa 0-6 0-0 0; J. Daniel 0-1 2-2 2; B. Diagne 0-5 1-2 1; C. Ashford 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 18-47 13-19 51.
CHARLESTON 7-4 (1-0) -- A. Baru 2-5 0-0 4; A. Stitt 6-9 7-9 22; A. Lawrence 2-5 1-2 7; W. Hall 3-3 2-2 8; A. Thomas 2-8 2-3 6; M. Sundberg 0-2 0-0 0; N. Johnson 3-8 0-0 8; T. Johnson 1-5 1-2 3; H. Bowne 0-0 0-0 0; T. Dixon 1-1 0-0 2; B. Benton 0-1 0-0 0; P. Branin 0-1 0-0 0; C. Cooke 0-0 0-0 0; J. Hall 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-48 13-18 60.
Three-point goals: CCU 2-10 (A. Raffa 0-2; K. Greenwood 1-1; W. Gillis 0-1; J. Daniel 0-1; B. Diagne 0-4; M. Enanga 1-1), COFC 7-23 (M. Sundberg 0-1; A. Lawrence 2-5; B. Benton 0-1; N. Johnson 2-5; P. Branin 0-1; A. Stitt 3-5; T. Johnson 0-2; A. Thomas 0-3); Rebounds: CCU 22 (M. Enanga 6), COFC 32 (W. Hall 6); Assists: CCU 5 (K. Greenwood 3), COFC 10 (A. Stitt 7); Total Fouls -- CCU 15, COFC 16; Fouled Out: CCU-None; COFC-None.