Game #9-296: Charleston Cougars at The Citadel BulldogsJanuary 14, 2013 7:30 pm
McAlister Field House
I am sure a good majority of the students disagree with me on this, but I am glad winter break is over. Gyms with low turnouts and no bands or excitement are done with, as we are now well into the conference season. What better way to kickstart the last portion of the regular season than with a rivalry game?
I am a sucker for a rivalry with a nickname associated with it, so I knew I had to check out the Crosstown Showdown between the College of Charleston and The Citadel. With the Cougars departing to the Colonial Athletic Association next year, who knows if the matchup between these two schools will even continue?
We have all heard the term "you can throw the records out the window" when it comes to rivalry games. It is a common cliché that I am sure does not have much scientific proof to it. I was hoping for The Citadel's case that it would be true on the evening. The Bulldogs were losers of 10 straight and had not beaten their crosstown rivals since 2010.
That did not mean that Charleston would be invincible on the evening as the Cougars have their fair share of ups and downs on the year. Any team that can lose big to a Division II school at home should not sleep on any team, especially their rivals down the road.
I had never been to a game between the Bulldogs and Cougars and did not know what the crowd would be like. If it was at TD Arena it would probably be a sellout since most games there are close to sellouts. Since it was at McAlister Fieldhouse, I could not predict how many people would show up so I got my ticket in advance, fearing not being able to get one on game day. As it turned out, a sellout was not even close, as the arena was only half full. A good amount of cadets were there early, but their numbers would dwindle throughout.
Charleston brought a fair amount of fans as well, filling a section behind the bench, to go along with the cheerleaders and mascot that also made the short trip. Most the Cougar fans were older, with not many students among them.
There was one noticeable student among them, which was TMMer Joe Wright. You can usually see Joe in the front row of the student section at Charleston home games. You have to appreciate Joe's mega-fandom, as every time the Cougars made a big play or bucket there would be Joe running up and down in front of the Charleston fans, waving his arms trying to get them into the game.
Joe and his fellow Cougar fans had a lot to cheer about in the first few minutes as rigorous backcourt pressure from Andrew Lawrence led to an early 11-3 lead. I have seen the Bulldogs be blown out before and this could have happened, but The Citadel battled back.
You could tell there was plenty of emotion with both teams, since there were two early scuffles that had to be broken up by the officials, although no technicals were called on either altercation. The first tech did come when Matt Van Scyoc made a huge swat on Trent Wiedeman then stood over him. He was called for taunting as the officials were trying to get a hold of the game while Lawrence sank the 2 free throws to give the Cougars a 20-16 lead.
The Citadel eventually turned the tide on the Cougars and started draining jumpers like I had never seen from this team in the past two years. A Marshall Harris III three gave the lead to the Bulldogs and a surprise burst from guard Janeil Jenkins helped keep the lead. The lead was three at the half, but could have been more, if not for a solid half from Lawrence and Adjehi Baru's strong interior play.
It is always boring when you have to entertain yourself for 15 minutes at the half when there is no act, but with the cadets back and a decent sized crowd, we got a performance from Albert Lucas, the Sport Juggler. He put on a good show tossing around various sporting goods, although I am not sure what sport uses the flaming clubs as equipment.
As I mentioned before, the amount of cadets grew fewer as they game went on, which I could not understand since the Bulldogs were playing a great game. Both teams came out hot entering the second half as Baru was still a force in the paint while the Bulldogs kept making threes, holding onto their small lead of 43-42 at the first media timeout.
I was amazed at what I was seeing from the Bulldogs, since they were turning into such an offensive force. Van Scyoc scored seven straight for the Bulldogs at one point. Charleston had an answer each time the Bulldogs would gain a small advantage. Sometimes criticized for their inconsistent play, Anthony Thomas and Anthony Stitt were shouldering the bulk of the offense with timely makes. They led a 16-3 run that turned The Citadel lead to a Cougar four-point advantage with four minutes to go.
With The Citadel down and losing momentum, they turned to their all-conference big man Mike Groselle. Groselle made two buckets in the post, but those surrounded a three from Lawrence. After a few empty possessions it was Groselle who scored again in the paint to cut the lead to three with close to a minute to go.
The Citadel got a stop on the other end and I thought they would go back to Groselle, but Ashton Moore took matters into his own hands and buried a three to tie the game at 69. Charleston rushed down the court and surprisingly did not use a timeout. Instead, Lawrence drove the lane and made a floater with less than 30 seconds to go. The Bulldogs came down and immediately went to Groselle, he missed a shot long down low and Harris grabbed the board, but missed as well. Lawrence snatched the rebound and ended up sealing the game with 2 free throws.
It was a very deflating loss for the Bulldogs. That had by far played their best game of the year and still came up short. While this rivalry has been lopsided in recent years I hope that it can continue after Charleston's move to the CAA. Some Cougar fans feel like they are above playing The Citadel, but after moving to a new conference with minimal geographic rivals, the College should keep as many traditions that it can.
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.