CofC Storm Past Stony Brook 92-52 In Regular Season Finale
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
CofC’s Ben Burnham had a career best in a Cougar uniform as he matched the number on his jersey, finishing with a game high 25 points, leading Charleston to a 92-52 win over Stony Brook Saturday afternoon. With the win the Cougars become the first team in college basketball to rack up 28 wins this season. With the victory CofC finish the regular season 28-3 overall and 16-2 in the CAA, guaranteeing them at least one of the top two spots in the upcoming CAA Men’s Tournament.
It was senior day at the college as Charleston celebrated four players leaving the program after this season including Jaylon Scott, Ryan Larson, Dalton Bolon, and Pat Robinson III. And although they played as a strong unit it was Burnham who ensured the seniors left with a marquee ‘W’. Benny Buckets as he’s been dubbed went 10 of 13 from the floor, making 2 of 3 from long range, while his ESPN alter ego Ken Burnham had to incredible slam dunks. Not to be outdone he hauled in the team best seven rebounds.
CofC Head Coach Pat Kelsey wasn’t surprised by Burnham’s play. “Benny was amazing. Just again, who’s your best player, we have nine of them. There’s not many teams in the nation who have this guy on this night and that guy on this night. It just continues to happen. So often you say ‘who’s the big three’. You can’t do that with us. Another example ‘Benny Buckets’. A great nickname, because he can flat put that ball in the basket.”
Burnham did have help as four other players ended up in double figures. Raekwon Horton and Reyne Smith knocked down four treys apiece to add 14 and 12 points apiece for CofC. Bolon and PRII chipped in 10 each. The lone loss this season on John Kresse Court was to Hofstra, as the Cougars finished 17-1 at TD Arena.
The Cougars only trailed only once at 5-4 in the first three minutes of the game then never looked back. Burnham scored a quick seven points in succession when he entered the game. When Benny scored on a layup the Cougars took a 10 point lead (27-17) with under seven minutes before the break. A 14 to 5 run gave the Cougars a comfortable 19 point margin as they took a 41-22 advantage into the locker room.
There was no letting up after the break. Back to back triples by Burnham and Smith found the home team up 58-30 inside four minutes in the second period. Charleston maintained a 30 point advantage until Burnham, Horton, and Smith drained three straight from long range pushing the margin to 42 points. It was all part of a 19-1 run.
The four starting seniors checked back in one final time to a standing ovation before Coach Kelsey cleared the bench at the three minute mark. When crowd favorite Jack Miller added to Charleston’s 15 3-pointers the place went wild. It was a perfect way to cap off what has been a stellar season at TD Arena.
The final stats proved CofC’s dominance. Their 40 point margin of victory was the biggest advantage all year, as were their 63 points from the bench. The Cougars dominated the glass hauling a 49 to 32 margin in rebounds.
Stony Brook had two players in double figures with Frankie Policelli making 3 of 7 from long range to lead his team with 22 points. Tanahj Pettway came in off the bench to provide 12 points for the visitors. With the loss Stony Brook finish the regular season 10-21 with a 6-12 mark in conference play.
Whether or not they win the league outright or prevail as the tournament champions, Coach Kelsey is sure of one thing. “If you watch that team play today and tell me that’s not a NCAA tournament worthy team, you’re crazy. That is a one percent team. That is a team with unbelievable stories, unbelievable character, that has become an elite team. That is a NCAA tournament worthy team.”
Even with all the uncertainty hanging over them, Coach says his focus is always the next game. “All I worry about is being great tomorrow. We can only control what we do.”
The Cougars will travel to Washington, D.C. for the CAA Tournament beginning March 3. Charleston will wait for the remainder of the CAA slate to finish for their first round pairing. The Cougars have secured at least a top two seed in the tournament. With Hofstra’s win over Northeastern Saturday night the two teams have identical league (16-2) records with Hofstra having a slight advantage with a win over Charleston a month ago.
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