Cougars survive in double overtime
College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins' hair is already white, and he wondered what color it could turn next after the Cougars' 87-85 double overtime victory over Chattanooga at TD Arena. Many more games like Saturday's and Cremins' hair probably will turn loose.
The Cougars shot 43 3-pointers and hit only 12 against the Mocs. They hit only 38 percent of their field goal attempts (26 for 68). Junior point guard Andrew Lawrence, who played a gutty 44 of 50 minutes and led the Cougars with 25 points and five assists, did not play the final 4:48 because of cramps.
A crowd of 4,358 watched as the Cougars improved to 7-1, 2-0 in the Southern Conference.
"This is the 12th year I've coached in the Southern Conference and it had to be one of the most exciting games," Cremins said. "(Chattanooga) outplayed and outcoached us. We couldn't hit the side of a barn ... I love the 3-ball, but it was getting a little ugly out there."
Chattanooga (2-6, 0-2 in the Southern Conference) has struggled this season, but the Mocs showed Saturday why they were picked as the preseason favorites to win the North Division.
Chattanooga coach John Shulman was as disappointed as Cremins was relieved.
"Back in Chattanooga we're nothing but a bunch of losers. I thought our basketball team played like winners. That's the problem with college athletics. We leave here losers. ... We deserved to win. We played hard enough to win but we didn't."
The Mocs had Charleston on the ropes most of the game. Chattanooga led by five at the half, 26-21, when former Cougar Tony White Jr.'s brother Ronrico hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer. Charleston started the second half on an 8-0 run but the Mocs answered with a 6-0 run of their own and eventually took a nine-point lead, 43-34, when White made three free throws after being fouled while attempting a 3-pointer.
But freshman Anthony Stitt, who scored 20 points while playing 38 minutes, turned the tide with back-to-back 3-pointers. Chattanooga was up four points, 65-61, with 21.9 seconds left in regulation, but Charleston battled back. The Cougars were able to tie the game when Keegan Bell (who had a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) missed the second end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity with 7.6 seconds left. Trent Wiedeman grabbed the rebound and got it to Lawrence who drove in for a layup to tie the game at 68 and send it to overtime.
Chattanooga jumped to a 4-point lead early in the second overtime, but the Cougars were able to rally and tie it at 72. Charleston had the ball late but missed a shot, sending the game into a second extra period.
Wiedeman had his second double-double in as many games and third of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Wiggins also finished with a double-double, 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Chris Early led Chattanooga with 18 points and was 4-for-4 from 3-point distance.
"I hope nobody is better than them," Cremins said of Chattanooga. "They played an outstanding basketball game. We hung in there. I'm not sure how we got to that incredible ending. I really feel fortunate to be on the winning side. We cannot get outplayed and outcoached like that. I thought we were ready but we weren't."
The Cougars are off until Dec. 14, when Tennessee comes to TD Arena. Charleston's next conference game doesn't come until Jan. 5 when it travels to Wofford.