It’s been 16 years since the College of Charleston last played at the CSU Fieldhouse on the campus of Charleston Southern.
Any more games like this, and it might be another 16 years before the Cougars come back to the Buc Dome.
College of Charleston guards Andrew Lawrence and Anthony Stitt each scored 18 points as the Cougars held off a furious Buccaneers rally to edge crosstown rival Charleston Southern, 72-67, before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 1,001 on Wednesday night.
For years the Buccaneers were forced to play this game at the North Charleston Coliseum when they were hosting the game with their downtown rivals. In the last year of their contract, the Bucs decided it was time to move the game back to the Buc Dome.
The Bucs definitely benefited from their home-court advantage.
“This is a great atmosphere,” Lawrence said. “It’s a tough place to play. The fans are definitely on top of you. You can hear almost everything they say. It was a fun game to play in.”
It was a game of runs, as the Bucs fought back from a 14-point second half deficit. The Cougars led 66-52, with 5:39 left to play, but CSU used a 12-0 run, led by point guard Saah Nimely’s seven points and Arlon Harper’s three-point play to pull to within, 66-64, with 2:10 to play.
“We fought hard, we showed a lot of heart to get back into the game, but we just came up a little short,” said Nimley, who finished with 20 points.
Lawrence, who connected four 3-pointers on the night, hit two free throws with 1:40 left to put the Cougars up 68-64.
But Harper, who finished with 20 points as well for the Bucs, drained a long-range 3-pointer to close the gap to 68-67 with 40.1 seconds left.
The Bucs chose to foul Lawrence on the Cougars next possession and the senior stepped up and hit two more free throws to give the Cougars a 70-67 lead with 31.5 seconds left in the game.
“Andrew did a great job down the stretch hitting his free throws,” said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. “We missed two free throws all game. That’s a great stat line.”
The Bucs had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but Harper’s 3-point attempt hit the front of the rim and Lawrence came up with the rebound with 10 seconds left in the game.
“Both of their guards — Nimley and Harper — are really good,” Lawrence said. “That team is going to win a lot o games in their league.”
The College of Charleston used two strong runs in the first half to open up double-digit leads only to have the Bucs claw their way back into the game.
“There just isn’t any quit in this team,” Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh said. “Everyone on this team has a huge heart. There isn’t an selfish bone in anyone’s body on this team.”
The Cougars used a 13-0 run early in the second half to break open the game early in the second half. Adjehi Baru’s jump hook gave the Cougars a 54-42 lead with 5:37 to play.
Baru added 11 points and eight rebounds, while Willis Hall had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Cougars.