Game #9-450: Gardner-Webb Bulldogs at Charleston CougarsFebruary 23, 2013 4:00 pm
Carolina First Center
The month of February was the wettest February in Charleston history. After just over a third of an inch of rain in the month of January, with an 80 degree
day, we had over ten inches of rain in the month of February.
This Saturday afternoon was another one of those gloomy days that everyone endures at some point. A cool February afternoon, gloomy, with a Bracketbuster game planned a few weeks before.
The CofC fans expected a better opponent. They were expecting an opponent at about their level on the RPI, which was 157 at the time. Instead, they got Gardner-Webb, a school who was 240 in the RPI at the time. Gardner-Webb made a great run heading into this Bracketbuster game, winning seven games out of eight.
Gardner-Webb is a school which is not known particularly well in the Charleston area. They are in the Big South, the league that Charleston Southern is in, but their location, an hour west of Charlotte in a town called Boiling Springs, North Carolina, makes them less well-known. They are 45 minutes from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and the closest town to the university is Shelby.
Their men's basketball program was known for years for one thing; upsetting Kentucky in 2007-2008, earning a trip to Madison Square Garden. Gardner-Webb won 84-68 in that game, and got to play Connecticut and Oklahoma in New York. That game was the reason why ESPN changed the brackets so that the host teams would automatically go to MSG, no matter what happens in the preliminary round.
Gardner-Webb has been Division I since 2000, and the win over Kentucky has probably been the biggest moment in their athletic program's history. Gardner-Webb changed conferences from the Atlantic Sun to the Big South in 2008-09, the year after winning that game. Winning at College of Charleston, one of the top programs in the Southern Conference, would be a benchmark moment for this team.
Gardner-Webb this year so far has upset DePaul, lost on a buzzer beater to Illinois, led most of the game at Iowa before losing, and lost by two at East Carolina. CofC went into this game on a two-game winning streak; on Wednesday Feb. 20, they went to Western Carolina and won by two, 67-65, on Andrew Lawrence's two free throws with about a second left.
They blew leads in both of those wins, so that was a cause for concern as they headed into this Bracketbuster game.
With Gardner-Webb not a well-known opponent, they were having trouble getting a big crowd to come to the game. They did several promotions to try to help the attendance. One of them was to give away CofC President George Benson's box to groups who tweeted at Clyde The Cougar. They also gave away one spot for a family who wanted to sit in the box.
This game was one which was an ugly one for the Cougars from the beginning. CofC trailed the Runnin' Bulldogs for most of the first half. The Cougars trailed by as many as eight points, and Lawrence's three-point shooting kept CofC in the game. Lawrence had four three-pointers in the half, which was a huge spark plug.
CofC went on a 11-0 run from the 4:36 mark of the first half to halftime, and went from trailing by eight to leading by three points at the half, 30-27. The crowd at TD Arena, even though it was not one of the biggest of the year, got very loud as they led them during that run. This was one of the louder moments of the year in the arena.
At halftime, if you love Harry Potter, you enjoyed this halftime. The halftime included a quidditch demonstration. Quidditch is the sport that Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) plays during his books and movies. It was weird to see CofC's quidditch team, one of the best in the Southeast, doing a demonstration on a basketball court.
The game became a rock fight in the second half. Neither team had more than a four point lead for almost the entire half. The Cougars held the lead for most of the first five minutes of the half, before Max Landis nailed a three-pointer to give the Runnin' Bulldogs a 36-34 lead. It stayed close and low-scoring, and with 8:07 left, Adjehi Baru had a huge and-1 to give CofC a three-point lead at 43-40.
The Cougars held a lead until the 5:11 mark, when Tashawn Newsome made a jumper to give Gardner-Webb a 47-46 lead. They got it back at 4:36 with a Newsome jumper, but Anthony Thomas tied it at 49 for CofC with 4:17. No points were scored for 3:15, a very long stretch in a close game like this.
Kevin Hartley's tip-in at 1:02 gave Gardner-Webb a 51-49 lead. The Gardner-Webb crowd, a decent number of fans, went crazy. There was still a minute to go, and CofC had several chances to tie the game or win it. Trent Wiedeman, however, with :38 left, missed both free throws, and Gardner-Webb had the ball. The Cougars had fouls to give, so they had to foul. Willis Hall missed a 3-pointer with :20 left, and Kevin Hartley made two free throws that gave Gardner-Webb a four-point lead, 53-49.
Anthony Stitt turned the ball over, but Tyler Strange missed the front end of a one-and-one. Lawrence missed a 3 however, and the game was over there, as Newsome made 2 to give Gardner-Webb a 55-49 lead. Anthony Stitt made a 3 at the buzzer for the final margin of 55-52. Strangely, he made a buzzer beater three at the end of each half.
It was a very tough loss for CofC on this day. People were mad as many CofC fans believed the Cougars were the better opponent. Gardner-Webb showed that in a big stage, they can be a very good team. Gardner-Webb is one of the favorites in the Big South Tournament, which starts this Thursday. Coming into the tournament, they have won seven straight games.
It was a gloomy Saturday for the Charleston teams on February 23. The Citadel, College of Charleston, and Charleston Southern's basketball teams all lost, while The Citadel and College of Charleston's baseball teams lost. It was a tough day for the local teams.
But there's always a better day.
GARDNER-WEBB 55, at CHARLESTON 52
GARDNER-WEBB 18-11 (9-5) -- K. Hartley 5-8 2-3 14; T. Strange 0-3 1-3 1; T. Newsome 4-12 4-4 12; D. Harper 3-8 2-2 8; J. Hill 1-5 2-4 4; I. Ivey 1-2 2-2 4; O. Branch 0-2 0-0 0; M. Landis 1-4 0-0 3; M. Byron 0-1 0-0 0; J. Davis 3-6 0-0 7; C. Hensley 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 19-52 13-18 55.
CHARLESTON 20-9 (12-4) -- A. Lawrence 6-11 0-0 16; A. Stitt 3-12 0-0 8; W. Hall 1-4 4-4 6; A. Baru 1-4 3-5 5; T. Wiedeman 3-6 1-3 7; A. Thomas 3-8 0-0 6; N. Johnson 0-4 0-0 0; M. Sundberg 1-4 1-2 3; T. Johnson 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 18-54 10-16 52.
Three-point goals: GWB 4-13 (T. Newsome 0-2; J. Davis 1-3; T. Strange 0-1; M. Landis 1-3; K. Hartley 2-4), COFC 6-25 (M. Sundberg 0-3; A. Lawrence 4-7; W. Hall 0-2; N. Johnson 0-4; A. Stitt 2-6; T. Johnson 0-1; A. Thomas 0-2); Rebounds: GWB 29 (T. Newsome 7), COFC 39 (W. Hall 8); Assists: GWB 7 (D. Harper 2), COFC 11 (A. Stitt 5); Total Fouls -- GWB 14, COFC 15; Fouled Out: GWB-None; COFC-A. Thomas.