CHARLESTON, S.C. – Senior point guard and reigning Southern Conference Player of the Week Andrew Lawrence (London, England) hit a three-pointer with 26 seconds remaining in regulation as College of Charleston narrowly got past Furman, 60-56, in league action held on Saturday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (10-4, 2-0 SoCon) extended their winning streak to five games, while the Paladins (3-10, 0-2 SoCon) remained winless in conference play and lost their fifth straight on the road.
CofC led for most of the contest with suffocating defense, until Furman went on a 12-3 run to capture its first lead of the game at the 8:57 minute mark of the second half. The Paladins maintained that lead until the final minute when Lawrence tied the game on a free throw, grabbed a defensive rebounds and then hit a three-pointer on the next possession to put the Cougars ahead for good, 57-54.
Charleston shot 34.6 percent from the field (18-of-52), but hit six three-pointers to Furman's one trey which proved to be the difference.
The Cougars' backcourt of sophomore guard Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) and Lawrence scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. Lawrence finished with three steals and three assists, but turned the ball over four times.
Redshirt junior forward Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) scored six points, including a big three-pointer late in the game, while grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds with four on the offensive glass.
Junior Anthony Thomas (Winston-Salem, N.C.) reached double figures with 10 points and four boards, while sophomore big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) had seven points and seven rebounds.
Furman's Colin Reddick led the way for the Paladins with a career-high 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He also had a team-high nine rebounds and two steals. Stephen Croone pitched in 11 points and seven boards, while Larry Wideman scored eight points.
The Cougars jumped all over Furman in the beginning of the first half, building a 19-6 lead with 9:45 remaining. The CofC defense held Furman to just 3-of-15 shooting to start, while the Cougars were able to score in transition.
However, the Paladins slowly began to find their rhythm and chipped away at the Cougars' lead. Two layups by Croone and four CofC turnovers in the final two minutes kept Furman within five points at the half, 27-22.
Both teams struggled to score from the field in the first 10 minutes of the second half, as Furman countered three-pointers from junior Nori Johnson (Greer, S.C.) and Lawrence with free throws from Reddick.
Reddick's layup at the 8:57 minute mark gave Furman its first lead of the game at 41-40, and another Reddick layup put the Paladins up 43-40 with 7:55 left on the clock.
Furman used 11 points from Reddick over the next five minutes to stave off the CofC comeback and keep the Paladins ahead. However, Hall's three-pointer with 2:22 remaining made it a one-possession game.
Lawrence's three with 26 seconds remaining proved to be the game-winner and his block on a Kendrec Ferrara three-point attempt with 10 seconds left iced the win for the Cougars.
The Cougars will continue their conference homestand with North Division foe Samford on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. The game will be televised locally on MyTV Charleston and carried nationally on ESPN3/WatchESPN.com.
· For the 10th time this season, the Cougars used the starting lineup of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, redshirt junior Willis Hall and sophomore forward Adjehi Baru (9-1).
· With the win, CofC is now two games away from leveling the all-time series with Furman. The Paladins still lead 41-39. It was both teams' 80th all-time meeting on the hardwood.
· First-year CofC Head Coach Doug Wojcik also picked up his 150th career victory against Furman.
· Anthony Stitt recorded his fourth consecutive game in double figures with a team-high 14 points in a career-high 39 minutes of action. Last year, he made his first career start at Furman.
· Andrew Lawrence turned in his third-straight contest in double figures with 13 points, 10 of which he scored in the second half.
· CofC shot 34.6 percent (18-of-52) from the floor which marked its second-lowest field-goal percentage of the season.
· Anthony Thomas scored in double figures for the fifth time of his career (10 points) with the Cougars.
· Willis Hall led the Cougars in the rebounding column for the fourth-straight game with a game-high 11 boards. He has now brought down double-digit boards in back-to-back games including 10 at Marist on Dec. 31.
· The Cougars outrebounded their opponents for the 11th time this year, 40-38 (+2).
· The CofC defense forced Furman into an opponent season-high 16 turnovers in the ballgame which the Cougars converted into just eight points.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game …
"We found a way to win. We fought. There is a lot to be said about fighting. We found a way and had a lot of resolve. We were up 13 in the first half and sort of cruising. We had five assists at one time and four turnovers and then we end the game with seven assists and 17 turnovers. Towards the end, we reverted to ball screens for Andrew Lawrence and Anthony Stitt. Give Furman a lot of credit. They played a really good game. Kind of like Anderson, when you start letting people in, they start to get confidence. We are 10-4. We are the only team in the Southern Conference or the Colonial (Athletic Association) with 10 Division I wins. We will take it and learn from it and get better for next week."
On Adjehi Baru's play and his foul trouble …
"I thought he (Baru) played tight all game. He had a lot of looks early in the game, but didn't take his time. That's two games in a row where he doesn't play well and we find a way to win. I thought the momentum of the game was changing from about the 18-minute mark in the second half and on down. We never took advantage of anything and give them (Furman) a lot of credit."
College of Charleston Senior Point Guard Andrew Lawrence
On making a big shot at the end of the game …
"I had a horrible game offensively. I was missing some layups, but our team found a way to win. My teammates gave me a lot of confidence. One of them came up to me out of the timeout and said ‘you're going to make the shot to win the game.' I had full confidence in myself to make that shot. I'm glad I could make that shot, but my teammates made big shots for us to win the game. I don't take the credit, it was a team win."
On the second half of play …
"We didn't play with enough intensity in the first part of the second half and they played really well. (Colin) Reddick proved how good of a game he had (with game-high 25 points and nine rebounds). Things are starting to come together for us. We are moving in the right direction."
College of Charleston Sophomore Guard Anthony Stitt
On the game ...
"It's conference play, so we are going to have to grind it out. We can't take anybody for granted. We have to go out there and play our hardest every night. Even though we had the lead at halftime, we could have played a lot better. We had 17 turnovers and a key to our success in getting road wins was limiting turnovers. We have to work on that. We knew that if we kept playing our style of basketball, the shots were going to fall."
Furman Head Coach Jeff Jackson
On the game …
"It was a good basketball game – a good conference basketball game. I thought both teams really competed. I thought their experience down the end won out. For us, the important thing is that we continue to improve and that we continue to move forward. We played quite a bit of the game with four freshmen on the floor. It's a growing process with this team. First, it's about being competitive – and then about learning to win. What I was very comfortable with – there's no such thing as moral victories – I was comfortable with how we competed. I was comfortable with the decisions that we made down the stretch. It just didn't go our way. Obviously, Andrew (Lawrence) made an incredible shot at the end."