Game #9-371: Appalachian State Mountaineers at Charleston CougarsJanuary 30, 2013 7:00 pm
Carolina First Center
College basketball is a game that is one of the best in sports for the fans. The fans, especially at the mid-major level, are closer to the fans than in most other sports. They can be a part of the game by yelling chants, being close enough to the crowd that they can bother the opposing team, and they can influence their own team by cheering.
In the Charleston area, we are blessed to have several great student sections, not just at the college level, but at the high school level as well. High school basketball's regular season, sadly, ends before nearly every state. As I write this, schools are going into their final regular season game. The season doesn't begin until just before Thanksgiving, and ends the first weekend in March, earlier than in most states. This allows more time for spring sports like soccer and baseball.
Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant, a high school which is bigger than about 50 Division I schools (including names like Richmond and Tulsa), has a great student section.
At almost every home game, they pack hundreds of students into their section. For big games, they can get as many as 500 students or more inside the section. They even travel to their rival schools (James Island, Goose Creek, Stratford, West Ashley, and a couple others). You almost always see 50-100 students even at their rivals. That is no small feat, when many universities twice as large or larger struggle to get a student section of 500.
Their rivalry with West Ashley is one of the biggest rivalries in the state, including college. The schools' attendance zones are only separated by the Cooper River, the narrow Charleston peninsula, and the Ashley River. They've been in the same region for almost a decade, and do not like each other at all.
Their basketball rivalry has been so fierce at times that one time, West Ashley's student section stormed the court for the TYING basket to send the game to OT. They were so excited they didn't know it was only a tying basket. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4Xnnr4Q0sg
Their last game at Wando was a good one too. A college-level student section helped lead Wando to a big upset. The entire game is here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEO5mwlrxqw
With Wando's tight gym, it helps hold in the noise, and makes for a really loud student section. They play in a rematch at West Ashley on February 8, the day that I made this recap.
Now, let's get back to the college game. CofC faced Appalachian State on this Wednesday night. It was a weird night for a game. Most SoCon games are held on Thursdays and Saturdays. Because of a scheduling quirk, this game was held on Wednesday night, giving the Cougars an extra day of rest. The problem was that the students didn't know that a game was going on that night, or that students were bored by Coach Doug Wojcik's coaching style.
This photo was taken just during the introductions right before the game. I was shocked by how empty the arena was, especially the student section. I'm the person standing on the front row.
There were more people in the upper level for a sorority's bid day, but I was really surprised as a student by the lack of turnout. It was an un-televised game, on a decent night, with not that much else to do on campus or in the rest of the area.
Bobby Cremins was beloved by the students. People wore his white wigs all over the place. The student section was filled nearly to capacity almost every game during the 2010-11 season when Andrew Goudelock completed his career as a Cougar. They also showed up last season, even through a four-game SoCon home losing streak.
A problem for the students was the new coach, Doug Wojcik. Diehard college basketball fans knew who he was from his days at Tulsa, but most of the rest of the university, who are casual fans, couldn't tell you who he was.
Another problem this year was that CofC had four home games during the holiday break. One of them was a 16-point loss to Anderson University, which is one of the top upsets in college basketball so far this season.
They lost five home games on or before January 10, including blowing a nine-point lead in the last five minutes to Samford.
The game against Appalachian State was one which stayed close through the first half. No team could get a lead of more than a few points. Appalachian led by as many as 8 points in the first half, at 25-17. At halftime, the Mountaineers still held a 35-32 lead at TD Arena, which was surprising, but the Cougars outscored them 15-10 in the final 5:25 of the first half, which was the most important part of the game.
This was after Appalachian State coach Jason Capel got a technical foul for going out on the court too far and talking to one of his players in the middle of the game. Lawrence made one of his technical foul shots. A three-point lead for App State quickly turned into a one-point deficit, and this changed the game.
CofC could have been down seven, eight or more at the half, which would have made it tough to come back. Instead, the Cougars came back in the second half, playing an inspired first six minutes of the second half. The Cougars took a lead of 48-42 with about 13 minutes to go, the largest that they had all game.
Except for one point when the lead was cut to three at 48-45, CofC never had a lead under one possession again. With 4:18 left, the Cougars got out to a 64-48 lead. CofC coasted from there, eventually winning 71-59. Anthony Thomas, a player that had started his college career at Appalachian State before moving to a Kansas junior college, then committing to CofC, torched the Mountaineers. He had 14 points and 7 rebounds, and added 3 blocks.
Other than that, the biggest news of the game was when an old man was walking down the street after the game and fell on the sidewalk. He was helped by about ten bystanders, who all participated in helping the man get proper medical care.
The students on this Wednesday night had a surprising bout of not attending, but CofC still got an important win.
at CHARLESTON 72, APPALACHIAN STATE 59
APPALACHIAN STATE 8-12 (4-5) -- J. Gray 4-10 0-0 11; N. Healy 2-13 0-0 5; M. Neal 0-3 1-2 1; J. Canty 5-13 1-2 11; T. Hamilton 4-8 0-1 9; M. Obacha 4-7 0-0 8; T. Baskin 6-12 3-3 16; J. Trice 2-7 1-1 6; C. Burgess 1-1 1-1 3. Totals 24-64 7-10 59.
CHARLESTON 15-7 (7-3) -- A. Lawrence 4-11 6-7 16; A. Thomas 6-10 1-2 14; A. Stitt 4-10 1-4 10; A. Baru 1-1 7-10 9; W. Hall 4-7 0-0 8; T. Wiedeman 5-9 0-0 10; N. Johnson 0-3 2-2 2; T. Johnson 1-1 0-0 3; M. Sundberg 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 25-55 17-25 72.
Three-point goals: APST 4-17 (J. Trice 1-2; N. Healy 1-8; J. Canty 0-3; T. Baskin 1-1; T. Hamilton 1-3), COFC 5-19 (M. Sundberg 0-2; A. Lawrence 2-6; W. Hall 0-1; N. Johnson 0-2; A. Stitt 1-5; T. Johnson 1-1; A. Thomas 1-2); Rebounds: APST 31 (N. Healy 9), COFC 36 (A. Stitt 7); Assists: APST 9 (M. Neal 6), COFC 16 (A. Stitt 6); Total Fouls -- APST 19, COFC 11; Fouled Out: APST-None; COFC-None.