Game #9-296: Charleston Cougars at The Citadel BulldogsJanuary 14, 2013 7:30 pm
McAlister Field House
The College of Charleston and The Citadel are two schools which are both icons in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. There are huge differences between them, which are especially prevalent when you see the two school's campuses.
The Citadel's campus is large, open, and fits the military school's profile. The barracks surround the grounds of the school, and it has been a venerable part of the campus ever since it moved from Marion Square (what is now one of the centers of town, basically in the College of Charleston campus) just after World War I. The school's corps of cadets are unique. Most of them are from South Carolina, since the school is a public university, but in the past few years, there have been many more out of state cadets.
The College of Charleston's campus, on the other hand, is very small. The campus forty years ago was separate from downtown, but now it is right in the middle of town. You can walk from a classroom and within two minutes be on King Street, the main street in downtown Charleston with great shopping and restaurants. It has grown in the past few years, but the school has carved a major niche as the state university for one of the fastest-growing parts of South Carolina for in-state students, and as a liberal arts power for out-of-state students, something that's only occurred in the past few years.
The two schools have never liked each other; even as The Citadel used CofC's cheerleaders until about ten years ago during their football games. The schools are rivals in every sport, and have been for as long as they have played each other; over a century. This year the benches nearly cleared in their women's soccer game. Their baseball rivalry is one of the best in the Southeast. You have two rabid fan bases just a couple of miles apart battling each other, every pitch, at least three times a year, sometimes more.
The basketball rivalry has always been important. In the past few seasons, after CofC controlled it, The Citadel has won several times. In 2009, The Citadel won at McAlister Field House in front of over 5,000. The cadets stormed the court. That year they also won at Carolina First Arena; both wins led the charge for their 10 game winning streak that led to a 20 win season.
In 2010, the Dogs also won at Carolina First. CofC has won the last five in the series, but they have given a fight in each game.
This game was more of the same. Even though The Citadel was at the bottom of the RPI (347 at the time) and CofC was in the 120s, you can throw out the records.
The cadets were ready, and so were the CofC cheerleaders.
The problem was that The Citadel charges too much money for tickets. The Citadel usually charges a maximum of ten dollars for a ticket to every other game during the season except when they play a big time opponent. For the College of Charleston game (and they do this every year) they charge twenty dollars for everyone but public and private school students, who pay twelve dollars to get in I believe. That is a high price to pay for a game at a place like McAlister Field House.
When half the seats are bleachers (including the cadet seats and the others are hard blue plastic seats that have not been replaced since their renovation in the late 1980s, you get this.
For The Citadel's biggest game of the year at McAlister Field House, you get a crowd of less than 3,000. Probably about 35-40% of those were cadets. They were loud. When you get a televised game (the first one all season at home) at The Citadel, the cadets get excited. On the other side of the cadet section (not pictured) it was packed. The cadets were very loud, vocal and into the game. They had many cheers and jeers, including a chant in unison of "(Trent) Wiedeman Sucks" after he had an air ball.
Cadet interest is not as high in the team after their stretch of tough seasons, but the ones who do come are loud.
The game was one of the best I've seen in this rivalry. It started with a quick 11-3 run in the first four minutes by the Cougars, quickly quieting the cadets and igniting the Cougar crowd.
The Bulldogs punched back with a 7-0 run of their own to cut the deficit to one. The game remained within two to five points most of the first half, either way. The Citadel took a 23-21 lead with 7:28 left in the first half on a Marshall Harris III 3. Except for one tie, they held the lead for the rest of the first half, surprising the Citadel crowd at McAlister, who got very loud for the first time all season.
At halftime, it was a surprising 34-31 lead for the Bulldogs against the Cougars, who were reeling a little bit, after having been fifteen point favorites on the road.
CofC quickly tied it early in the second half at 36. The Citadel fought hard for nearly the entire second half. The Dogs took the lead at 39-38 with 16:43 left, and held it until there was 8:09 left. They had the lead up to as many as seven points, 57-50; the Citadel cadets were going crazy. The Cougars quickly responded with an 8-0 run to take a 58-57 lead, led by an Anthony Stitt 3-pointer.
The Bulldogs kept close though. They were down 7 with 3:28 left, 69-62. Any more points would have probably meant a win for the Cougars, but The Citadel wouldn't go away. The Dogs got a Groselle layup to cut the deficit to 5, then another Groselle layup to cut the deficit to 3. Ashton Moore then added a 3 with just :45 left to tie the game for The Citadel at 69.
McAlister got very loud. The cadets were jumping up and down, moving throughout the bleacher section.
Andrew Lawrence, however, quieted the crowd with a layup with :28 left. The Cougs led 71-69. In the next possession, The Citadel couldn't get the shot to go to tie the game or take the lead. Lawrence made two free throws, and the Cougs had a four point lead. A jump ball was called with two seconds left on a very questionable call, but thankfully for CofC fans, Lawrence made the first free throw, so it didn't matter.
The Cougars escaped from McAlister Field House with a 73-69 win. This was a very tough win for CofC. After this game, they had to go to Georgia Southern and Davidson; the team lost both games. The Citadel upset Georgia Southern after getting blown out at Davidson. For both teams, their next game is the final part of the crosstown rivalry.
That game will be Thursday night, January 24 at TD Arena. This is the last year that the Bulldogs and the Cougars will play twice a season. Starting next season, when CofC goes to the CAA, they will play only one time a year. Next year's game will be held at McAlister Field House.
There is no reason why the CofC-Citadel game shouldn't have at least 5,000 fans every year. I've heard that next year's game will be the season opener. Making this the opener would make this game the official kickoff of college basketball in the Lowcountry. Now, college basketball starts in the shadow of college and high school football. It is not until December when the locals gravitate toward basketball.
It should be a great tradition for the Lowcountry. Both schools should embrace the rivalry; the rivalry is a classy one. Both schools and their fans respect the other. The Citadel is a football school, but by making their basketball game against CofC more important when it is held in their arena, it would help the reputation of their program.
The College of Charleston and The Citadel is one of the most under-appreciated rivalries in the nation, and I am glad that Coach Doug Wojcik and Coach Chuck Driesell decided to continue the rivalry. The entire Charleston area should embrace it as one of the few crosstown Division I rivalries in the nation.
CHARLESTON 73, at THE CITADEL 69
CHARLESTON 12-5 (4-1) -- R. Johnson 1-9 5-5 7; A. Lawrence 5-14 8-9 21; A. Stitt 5-12 0-0 14; A. Baru 7-12 2-3 16; A. Thomas 4-10 1-1 10; T. Wiedeman 1-4 3-5 5; W. Hall 2-5 0-0 5; T. Johnson 0-1 0-0 0; N. Johnson 0-2 0-0 0; M. Sundberg 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 25-61 14-18 73.
THE CITADEL 3-12 (0-5) -- M. Van Scyoc 6-9 3-4 17; M. Groselle 9-12 1-3 19; M. Harris III 2-8 0-0 6; A. Moore 4-10 0-0 10; S. Elmore 0-3 1-3 1; J. Jenkins 3-4 2-2 8. Totals 24-46 7-12 61.
Three-point goals: COFC 9-21 (A. Lawrence 3-7; W. Hall 1-1; N. Johnson 0-1; A. Stitt 4-9; A. Thomas 1-3), CITA 6-14 (M. Harris 2-5; A. Moore 2-3; S. Elmore 0-1; J. Jenkins 0-1; M. Van Scyoc 2-4); Rebounds: COFC 31 (A. Baru 12), CITA 22 (M. Groselle 9); Assists: COFC 11 (A. Thomas 4), CITA 15 (M. Harris 7); Total Fouls -- COFC 15, CITA 13; Fouled Out: COFC-None; CITA-None.
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