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CofC Down Hampton 89-61 In CAA Play



Cougars Extend Winning Streak to 12 Games
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer

After enjoying an extended 10 day Christmas holiday break the College of Charleston men’s basketball team opened Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play Thursday night at they hosted Hampton University to TD Arena. At 12-1, the Cougars are off to their best start since joining the NCAA, and carried with them an 11 game winning streak.

The matchup would be the first for both teams since Hampton joined the CAA. The only other meeting between the programs was on December 28, 1999, when Charleston defeated Hampton 76-58. CofC and Hampton couldn’t be more mismatched heading into the contest. The Pirates coming off an 0-2 performance at the Boost Mobile HBCU Challenge came to Charleston with an overall 3-9 record.

Despite Hampton holding their own early on in the game, the records proved the oddsmakers correct as Charleston exploded midway through the first half extending their lead to as many as 32 in the second period on their way to an 89-61 victory over the Pirates. CofC begin CAA play 1-0, moving to 13-1 overall.

Yet it was a tale of two halves as. After shooting a stellar 74 percent from the floor including 8 of 12 from 3-point territory in the opening period and enjoying a decisive 56-36 lead at the break, the Cougars made just 1 of 13 from beyond the arc, in the second 20 minutes of play, closing out the contest shooting just 47 percent for the game. Still they picked up a much needed win in the league and kept a 12 game win streak alive.

Pat Robinson III came in off the bench to lead the Cougar attack with a game high 19 points, going 6 of 8 from the floor with one from long range. A total of six Cougars hit for double figures with another finishing with nine points.

CofC Head Coach Pat Kelsey admits it arguably the best all around game they’ve played this season. “That’s our deal. We play a lot of guys. You have to have the right guys, the right make up to do that.”

Hampton enjoyed the lead (7-6) for a mere nine seconds as the Cougars slowly padded their lead. With the help of five 3-pointers CofC went up 28-14 near the midpoint of the firs half. When Ante Brzovic connected for three the hard way Charleston enjoyed a 32-17 advantage. By the time the Cougars hit their eighth triple they managed to hold onto a 20 point (56-36) advantage at intermission.

Both teams apparently left a little offense with them in the locker room after the break. Hampton connected on just 10 of 33 (30%) second half attempts, with Charleston even worse at 11 or 38 (29%). The difference overall was made up at the foul line where the Cougars went 18 of 28 adding 4 of 4 off technical fouls. On the opposite side of the equation, the Pirates attempted eight free throws, making just one from the line.

Hampton finished with two players in double figures. Marquis Godwin lead the Pirates with 18 points, knocking down 4 of 10 from beyond the arc. Russell ‘Deuce’ Dean added 17 points including three from long range. The Pirates’ Jordan Nesbitt hauled in a game best 10 rebounds. Hampton fall to 3-10 overall and 0-1 in CAA play.

Sitting one game back of North Carolina in the AP Top 25 poll (the only team CofC lost to this season), the Cougars could have taken Hampton with their poor record lightly after a long holiday break. Coach Kelsey said it’s not the Cougar style.
“We’ve never had a bad work out. It’s just not normal. We’re committed to excellence in the process. We had three elite practices. When you prepare that way you’re going to play well. We just didn’t play well in the second half.”

Ante Brzovic went 6 of 9 for the Cougars for 15 points. Dalton Bolon went 2 of 4 from 3-point land as he and Ryan Larson added 11 apiece. Reyne Smith drained two treys chipping in 10 points. Ben Burnham  went 4 of 8 from the floor, ending up with nine points.

On the schedule the Cougars have perhaps their most important contest early in the CAA as they travel to take on pre-season number one Towson on Saturday. Coach Kelsey admits he and the players stay focused “Going into this game we don’t even talk about it. We have a mature team. We have ultimate respect. We prepare for that like we’re preparing for Duke.” The Cougars carry a 12 game winning streak with them to Towson.

With the team travelling on Friday for a noon tip off Saturday, Coach Kelsey he’d personally begin preparing once he left and went home Thursday night. “I’ll open up my laptop and watch game film all night.” He added, “It’s an early game but I like a challenge.”

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