Cougs clamp down
College of Charleston 69, The Citadel 46
With three newcomers in the starting lineup and a fourth in the rotation, College of Charleston guard Andrew Goudelock fears for his coach's trademark shock of white hair.
"With this young of a team, I'm surprised his hair hasn't turned black yet," Goudelock said of coach Bobby Cremins.
But if hair color is the measure of coaching a young team, Citadel basketball coach Ed Conroy might wake up today looking like he's wearing one of those Cremins wigs. His 11 freshmen got their first taste of the Cougars-Bulldogs' rivalry on Monday night, and it was one they won't soon forget.
The overmatched Bulldogs managed only nine points in the first half, and College of Charleston won its 11th straight in the series, 69-46, before 3,233 fans at McAlister Field House.
Goudelock, a freshman making his first start for the Cougars, scored 13 points while junior Jermaine Johnson racked up his eighth double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Dustin Scott added 11 points and seven rebounds.
But defense was the story for Charleston (8-8, 3-3 Southern Conference), which entered the game ranked dead last in the league in scoring defense. The fullcourt press and aggressive man-to-man ordered up by Cremins turned the Bulldogs' motion offense into a motionless mess.
The Citadel (5-11, 0-7) lost its fifth straight by shooting 14.8 percent in the first half and 30 percent for the game, a season low for a Cougars opponent. Freshman Tyrell McDowell scored 14 points and freshman Austin Dahn added 10 for the Bulldogs.
"We were extremely tentative to start the game, and tentative the entire night against the press," said Conroy, whose team missed 23 of its first 27 shots. "We were passing up open shots, our feet weren't set and we were just out of rhythm.
"I can't explain it. I thought we were past that point. But the most frustrating thing has been finding consistency with this group."
Cremins, whose team shot a season-best 59.2 percent, was gracious in victory and pointed out that The Citadel lost to Georgia Southern on Saturday while the Cougars had the day off.
"That was the tale of the game, the first half," he said. "We had more rest than they did, and their shooting in the first half was a little short. With them not shooting well and us scoring, that made it difficult for them."
The first 20 minutes were an unmitigated disaster for the Bulldogs, who missed nine of their first 10 from 3-point range, turned the ball over seven times and passed up some open shots in favor of more difficult looks.
"It wasn't intimidation, it was all about us," said Citadel junior Jon Brick. "We were a little tight and sometimes we are a little tentative until we let the game come to us. But we never hit our stride in that first half."
A string of three straight Citadel turnovers — turned into seven points by the Cougars — jump-started a 17-0 run that gave Charleston a 23-5 lead.
"We knew this was a game they really were looking forward to, and we had to bring our best defensive effort," Johnson said. "All five of their guys are shooters, so we knew we had to get after them."
The Bulldogs went more than nine minutes without a point, and by the time Conroy was forced to explain the proceedings during a live TV interview at halftime, it was 32-9. That marked the fewest points the Cougars had allowed in the first half since Campbell managed eight in 1998, and The Citadel could get only as close as 17 in the second half.
Citadel researchers were looking up the last time the Bulldogs scored fewer than nine points in the first half. At press time, they'd gotten only as far as 2002-03.
Afterward, Conroy pointed out to his freshmen that they will get at least seven more chances to play the Cougars in their careers.
"I told them, they get eight tries at this game, and that was one," he said. "Certainly, we didn't give our best. When we play at their place (on Feb. 4), we need to be a better basketball team."
-- Citadel senior Demetrius Nelson, who has missed nine straight games with a stress fracture in his right foot, will be examined today. A decision on the fate of his season could come by the end of the week ... The Cougars play host to Wofford on Thursday, while The Citadel gets the Terriers on Saturday.