UNC Asheville tops College of Charleston, 67-58, in overtime

This time there was no miracle finish for the College of Charleston.

UNC Asheville guard Andrew Rowsey scored 23 points and D.J. Cunningham added 12 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots to lead the Bulldogs past the Cougars, 67-58, in overtime Friday night before a crowd of 4,120 at TD Arena.

Three nights after their thrilling 83-82 come-from-behind victory over Charlotte, the Cougars (1-2) couldn’t muster the same kind of magic against UNC Asheville (1-2).

Despite doing a lot of good things — Charleston had a season-low six turnovers and made nine of 10 free throws — the Cougars were doomed to fail by their poor shooting. The Cougars were just 22 of 70 — 31.4 percent shooting — from the floor and five of 27 (18.5 percent) from behind the 3-point line.

Certainly the Bulldogs, who blocked 12 shots, had something to do with the Cougars’ dismal shooting performance, but Charleston had enough open looks at the basket to produce more points.

“We couldn’t convert on the offensive end. We had a ton of missed shots,” said College of Charleston freshman Canyon Barry, who finished with a team-high 18 points. “It’s tough to win games when you shoot like we did tonight. I thought we ran our offense, we got a ton of open looks, but we just were not converting. It was one of those nights.”

Facing a zone defense for most of the night, the Cougars were forced to take a season-high 27 3-point attempts.

“Normally I don’t like us taking that many three-point shots, but Asheville zoned us and we reversed the ball and got open looks, those are good shots and shots I want us taking,” said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. “But you look at those shooting numbers and at the end of the day you have to put the ball in the basket.”

The presence of Cunningham in the paint for the Bulldogs plus Jaleel Roberts, who finished with three blocks, stopped sure scoring chances for the Cougars around the basket.

“The secondary defender blocking the shots was a little bit of surprise,” Wojcik said. “We knew (Cunningham) was a good shot blocker. Normally when Joe (Chealey) gets by someone, he’s getting to the rim. When Joe did pass, we were getting it blocked. Give Asheville credit.”

Rowsey, a true freshman, also proved to be a difference maker for the Bulldogs. Rowsey appeared to have unlimited range in his jump shot. Rowsey was a perfect five of five from the floor in the first half and missed just three shots in 11 attempts for the game.

“Rowsey is a heck of a player for a true freshman,” Wojcik said. “I think his range surprised us a little bit early in the game. He extended our defense and once they got the lead, they controlled the tempo of the game. They ran the shot clock down on most of their possessions.”

Led by Rowsey’s 13 points in the first half, the Bulldogs led 31-21 going into the locker room.

The Cougars clawed their way back into the game, going on a 15-6 run to start the second half, and closed the gap to 37-36 on Anthony Thomas’ layup with 14:31 to play.

Charleston appeared to take control of the game after a steal and layup by Chealey gave the Cougars a 42-39 lead with 11:08 to go.

But the Bulldogs answered with Jaron Lane leading the way and grabbed a 54-49 lead with 3:29 to play on his three-point basket.

The Cougars got another layup from Thomas at the 3:09 mark, and then both teams went cold until Hall connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game at 54-54 with 33.7 seconds to play.

“This team just never gives up,” Barry said. “We proved that again tonight. That’s going to help us down the road.”

It was all Bulldogs and Rowsey in overtime. Rowsey hit a 15-footer to put Asheville up 60-56, and then sank four straight free throws to seal the victory.

The Cougars will face Miami, the defending ACC champion, Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at TD Arena.

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