After Slow Start Ali Comes Thru with Game Winning Shots
By: Jeff Walker, Sportswriter
Up by 11 points at one time in the opening period, and by five at the break, the College of Charleston men’s basketball team spent most of the second half coming from behind, before edging Presbyterian 78-76 in overtime. The Cougars maintain a two-game winning streak and improve to 7-3 overall including a 5-1 record at home.
Brenden Tucker who paced the Cougars with a season high 23 points hit a 3-pointer from the corner to tie the contest at 68 all with 2:53 remaining. Two minutes later Tucker would drive the lane to make it 72 apiece, forcing the game into the extra period.
With little offense happening from either squad in overtime, Fah’mir Ali who had gone 1 of 13 from the field during a stretch in the game, drove the lane for a tough bucket with 10 seconds remaining that provided the edge Charleston needed. Ali scored the last four points for the Cougars. Presbyterian’s final shot missed, and Ali snagged the rebound at the buzzer. Talk about late game redemption.
During the final time out, CofC head coach Pat Kelsey said he felt divine inspiration was calling on Ali. “I definitely, 100 percent don’t want to be patted on the back for that. I’m strong in my faith, that’s something I take pride in. Everything in basketball that I’ve learned is not to go to someone who is 1 for 13 from the field. But take this how you want, but the Lord was telling me go to Fah’Mir.”
Charleston controlled the tip and the pace of the game early on. With help from seven straight points from Tucker the Cougars went up 12-5 after just a little more than four minutes had gone by. When Ben Burnham dropped a couple from the foul line CofC forged a double digit (22-11) lead.
The Bluehose answered with an 8-2 run to make it a two-possession contest. A short jumper by Nick Farrar gave the home team another double digit (40-30) margin, with Presbyterian answering with a 7-2 run that sent both teams into the locker room with Charleston up 42-37 at intermission.
Two minutes into the second half a 3-pointer by Kobe Stewart gave the Blue Hose their first lead (43-42) since the first minute of play. Back-to-back threes by Tucker and Burnham put CofC up 48-43 with 15:04 on the clock. With six minutes in regulation the game was tied at 60 all.
When Trevon Reddish-Rhone made a layup with 3:57 left the visitors went up 68-65. But Tucker once again came up big, hitting from long range. Tucker would answer again at the one-minute mark with a short jumper that sent the game into overtime. Presbyterian had four attempts in the final 42 seconds but couldn’t connect, and more surprisingly Charleston didn’t foul during the triple offensive rebounding.
Tucker finished shooting 8 of 13 from the field, adding three from long range for his 23 points. Farrar had a solid afternoon, making 5 of 8 including 2 of 3 from beyong the arc for 14 points. Dimitrius Underwood added 13 points. Burnham finishes with eight points and a team high nine rebounds.
After going 2 of 14 from the field, Ali did end up with eight points, including 4 of 4 from the foul line. It was his final two shots that made the difference. “They (team) kept encouraging me throughout the game, so I never really felt out of it, even though I had an off night.”
Surprisingly the Cougars managed to pull off a win without the likes of starting players John Meeks and Babacar Faye. Meeks is averaging 14 points per game. Add to that Reyne Smith, their thunder from down under went 0-6 with just two points from the free throw line.
Rayshon Harrison and Winston Hill lead all scorers with 26 points apiece for the Blue Hose, with Hill hauling in nine boards. With the loss Presbyterian fall to 6-5 overall.
The Cougars travel to Deland, Florida to take on Stetson on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will air on ESPN+. Following that Charleston take on Rhode Island in the DC Events Holiday Hoops Fest before Old Dominion on Dec 22nd. Their next home game at TD Arena is Dec 29th when they open CAA play hosting Drexel.
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