Before a sellout crowd and a CBS Sports audience, the College of Charleston men’s basketball team put their 23rd national ranking and 14 game winning streak to the test, as the Cougars welcomed defending CAA champion Delaware to the Holy City Saturday evening.
At 15-1 heading into the contest, CofC with their solid 10 man rotation has become one of the most talked about mid major programs in the nation. Saturday’s matchup between the Cougars and the Blue Hens would be the 23rd meeting between the two teams with Charleston enjoying a 99-96 victory in their final meeting on Delaware’s home court in 2022.
The Blue Hens coming off a victory over Elon came to TD Arena sporting a 9-6 record overall and 1-1 record in league play. The Cougars with their 14 game winning streak and national ranking have become targets for opposing teams, hoping to put the end to the streak. Despite Delaware’s record a lot was on the line Saturday as both teams fought hard over 40 minutes with the home team emerging victorious downing the visitors 75-64 before 5100 plus avid fans.
For Cougars finished with four in double figures. Dalton Bolon and Ben Burnham lead the Cougar attack, with a team best 13 points apiece. Each hauled in eight rebounds. Ryan Larson and Ante Brzovic chipped in 12 and 11 points respectively, with Brzovic finishing with a game high 12 rebounds.
Both teams traded baskets for most of the first half. With the help of three dunks by Babacar Faye the Cougars kept pace early on. After eight minutes of play the Blue Hens enjoyed a 15-12 advantage, before a 7-0 run the Cougars capped off by a trey from Brzovic righted the scoreboard.
Faye’s fourth dunk followed by a layup by Burnham gave CofC their second four point margin. Nearing the final four minute war of the first half the Cougars found some mojo. When Burnham drained a long range missile Charleston went up 31-22 with 2:30 left to play. The home team would take a favorable 35-27 lead into the locker room.
Delaware came out of the break a bit more determined, pulling within one possession on three separate occasions, eventually regaining the lead (49-48) at the 12 minute mark. The Cougars would trail twice before a big three by Reyne Smith sparked a four minute 7-0 rally that found CofC up 57-51 with just over eight minutes in regulation.
Three minutes later Burnham capped off another Charleston spurt grabbing an offensive rebound for a hard earned dunk that gave the Cougars their biggest lead (65-55) of the night at the time. The home team would maintain a double digit lead throughout the remainder of the contest, up by as much as 15 in the final minute before settling for an 11 point margin of victory.
With the win CofC improve to 16-1 and 4-0 in the CAA, all the while keeping the nation’s longest winning streak alive at 15 straight games. Four Delaware players finished in double figures with Jyare Davis going of 8 of 18 from the floor for a game high 18 points. Christian Ray went 7 of 9 for 14 points. Cavan Reilly and LJ Owens chipped in 12 and 10 respectively. With the loss the Blue Hens fall to 9-7 overall and 1-2 in the league.
The final stats were not overly impressive for either team, with Charleston excelling in the two categories they have most of the season. The Cougars outrebounded Delaware 46 to 36, doubling up the Blue Hens on the offensive glass allowing for 20 second chance points. The Charleston bench added 29 points, with Burnham’s 13 leading the way.
Charleston Head Coach Pat Kelsey has faith in his bench and Burnham. “I thought Ben was spectacular today.” His teammates Bolon and Larson agree they don’t necessarily have to set up a play for him, rather Burnham just finds his own opportunities to score.
CofC will be put to the test midweek, as they travel to UNCW to face the Seahawks on Wednesday, January 11 at 7:00pm. UNCW currently holds the nation’s second longest winning streak at 13 games. Locals can listen to the game on 910 AM or view through FloSports.