One & Done, CofC Fall to San Diego State 63-57
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Going 28-3 in the regular season including a 16-2 mark in the CAA and 20 game win streak, the College of Charleston capped off the post season by capturing the conference tournament and an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. With a 31-3 record overall 12th seeded CofC came to Orlando to take on 5th seeded San Diego State Thursday afternoon in the opening round of ‘March Madness’.
After spending four weeks in the AP Top 25, the much touted Cougars were seeking their first NCAA Tournament win since taking down Maryland in 1997 when they entered the Big Dance also as a 12 seed. Would history repeat itself 26 years later. Second year CofC Head Coach Pat Kelsey who was just named the USBWA and NABC District Coach of the Year and is perhaps the biggest cheerleader brought the team to the land of Disney with high hopes.
The Aztecs (27-6) out of the Mountain West (15-3) conference matched up well against the Cougars. San Diego State ranks 10th nationally in defensive efficiency and ninth in three-point defense (29.3%). On the flip side of the coin Charleston have one of the best three point shooting programs in the country and know how to attack the offensive boards which adds to a strong complement of second chance points.
Stats are often an afterthought when the two teams take to the court. When it was all said and done, after 40 hard fought minutes the San Diego State outpaced CofC 63-57, advancing to the round of 32 and a matchup with fellow Palmetto State entrant Furman who downed Virginia 68-67 on a last second 3-pointer.
Three CofC players ended the contest in double figures with Ante Brzovic going 5 for 13 as well as 0 for 4 from long range for 12 points. Ryan Larson and Dalton Bolon added 11 and 10 respectively, with Jaylon Scott chipping in nine points. Charleston’s history making season comes to an end, leaving an overall 31-4 mark in their wake.
Trailing by nine points (45-36) with 12:36 left to play Charleston rallied tying the contest at 53 all on four straight points from Brzovic. But a short jumper by Matt Bradley followed by a trey from Micah Parrish gave the Aztecs a five point margin with 2:25 remaining as they closed out the final minutes on a 10-2 run to advance in the NCAA Tournament.
Bradley lead all scorers with 17 points making good on 7 of 15 with one from downtown. Another three players finished with eight points, with Jaedon LeDee hauling in a game best eight rebounds. With the win the Aztecs improve to 28-6 and take on the Furman Paladins who are 28-7.
Bolon put the Cougars on the scoreboard first, with Reyne Smith following with a rare four point play. When Brzovic scored in the paint CofC went ahead 10-6 after just six minutes of action. A long range missile by Bolon would give Charleston the first of four seven point leads, the last coming on a short jumper by Babacar Faye that found the Cougars up 24-17 at the 6:03 mark. San Diego State would push through a 15 to 5 run that provided a 32-29 lead at the break.
Two minutes into the second period the Cougars managed to cut the lead to one point (34-33). Another five minutes later the Aztecs built a nine point advantage, before a Charleston rally tied it at 53. But whether fatigue set in or the wheels just came off the bus, the Cougars came up empty allowing five points from the foul line to help propel San Diego State to victory.
Unfortunately it was the final stats that did the College of Charleston in. They finished shooting just 32 percent from the floor including 5 of 24 (20%) from beyond the arc. A team that averages more than 30 points off the bench only managed to account for eight. The Aztecs didn’t fair much better but did make 24 of 56 for 43 percent, while getting 24 points from their bench and 12 second chance points. In the end it was enought to move on.
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