The bus ride home from VMI is never short. The trip from Lexington, Va., to The Citadel campus is even longer when you are packing two losses.
But for Citadel guard Ashton Moore, Sunday’s bus ride home must have stretched on forever. Moore, who missed 19 of 21 shots in two losses at the All-Military Classic, studied all 21 of those shots on video during the trip home, with his coaches providing lecture notes.
“We sat down and watched all his shots on the 6½-hour ride from Lexington,” coach Chuck Driesell said. “We showed him that about eight of them were good shots, and he made two, and the others were bad shots that affected his confidence. Your mind is so important when you are a shooter.”
The video session paid off in The Citadel’s home opener Tuesday night. Moore made 7 of 11 shots and scored 19 points to lead a sizzling shooting performance by the Bulldogs in an 82-68 win over Presbyterian before 1,211 fans at McAlister Field House.
The Bulldogs (1-2) made 11 of 24 from 3-point range, including 4 of 4 from guard Marshall Harris, and opened up an 18-point first-half lead on the Blue Hose (0-2), picked to finish last in the Big South South Division.
Moore and Harris combined for 10 turnovers in the season-opening loss to VMI, and Moore went 0 of 7 in a loss to Army. But against PC, Moore added six assists and six rebounds to his 19 points, while Harris went for 14 points, six assists and five boards.
“The coaches were encouraging with us,” Moore said. “They just want us to stay confident. We are both juniors this year, and they are counting on us to lead this team. We talked and decided that we need to lead this team, and we tried to do that tonight.”
Sophomore Matt Van Scyoc added 16 points and eight rebounds, and Dylen Setzekorn came off the bench to score 12 points, giving the Bulldogs four players in double figures.
“We didn’t shoot well at the All-Military Classic, and we had chances in both games if we had made some shots,” Driesell said. “Tonight, we made shots and that was the difference.”
No shot was bigger than a corner trey from Setzekorn with 3:36 left in the game. PC had cut a 15-point gap to three when the 6-7 redshirt sophomore bagged a triple from the left corner for a 72-66 lead.
“That was huge,” Moore said. “That was great for him, to come off the bench and give us a spark like that.”
Van Scyoc followed with a tough up-and-under move for a bank shot and then hit two free throws for a 76-66 lead with 1:51 left, and PC never got closer.
“Presbyterian doesn’t have the team they had last year,” Van Scyoc said. “But they gave us a lot of problems down low, and coming out with a win is promising for us. It feels good to win, but it probably shouldn’t have been that close.”
The hot shooting covered up some issues. William Truss, PC’s 6-8, 265-pound center, had his way inside against the Bulldogs’ slender post men, freshmen Tom Koopman and Brian White. He had 20 points and 14 rebounds and Jordan Downing, a transfer from Davidson, added 16.
The Citadel also had 15 turnovers, leading to 14 PC points. But the Blue Hose did not shoot well enough to take full advantage, making just 3 of 17 from 3-point range. For the season, Citadel foes are shooting 26 percent from 3-point range.
The Bulldogs are at home Saturday night against North Greenville before taking trips to Tennessee and Wake Forest next week.
Follow Jeff Hartsell on Twitter @jeff_fromthepc.