College of Charleston guard Anthony Stitt came into the game in a bit of a shooting slump.
OK, truth be told, the Charlotte native would have had trouble throwing the ball into the ocean from the Folly Beach pier earlier in the season.
Stitt had been shooting just 32 percent from the floor in the Cougars’ first four games and 22 percent from three-point range.
Well, consider the shooting slump officially over.
Stitt scored a season-high 21 points to lead four players in double figures as the Cougars (2-3) cruised past Furman (2-2), 89-55, Saturday night before a crowd of 3,223 at TD Arena.
After missing his first two attempts of the game, Stitt connected on 7 of 10 shots, including 4 of 6 three-pointers the rest of the way. He finished the game going 7 of 12 from the floor, by far his best shooting game of the season. Stitt also added two rebounds, two assists and four steals with zero turnovers to his overall strong floor game.
But wait, that’s not all.
Stitt did all this and had the unenviable task of trying to slow down Furman guard Stephen Croone, who came into the game averaging 27 points against Division I opponents.
“I thought Anthony played a phenomenal game at both ends of the floor,” said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. “He had a good floor game for us running the team when Joe Chealey got into foul trouble in the first half. In the second half he scored the ball. He needed a game like, and to be honest, we needed that.”
After the game Stitt was just as satisfied with his defensive effort on Croone as he was with his offensive production.
“I pride myself on my defense,” Stitt said. “I kind of took the matchup with (Croone) personally. I felt like if we could get stops on defense, we could kind of limit what they like to do offensively. Stephen is a great player. He’s the key to their team. I don’t know that I stopped him, I kind of slowed him down.”
For the record, Croone finished with 20 points, on 7 of 14 shooting from the floor, but Stitt made the sophomore guard work for every shot he took.
“We wanted to pick Croone up full court and screen him when we had the ball and make him work,” Wojcik said. “He still had good numbers, but I thought Anthony did a good job on him. Joe Chealey also played well when he got his chance to guard him.”
While Wojcik and the Cougars expected Stitt to play well defensively, the offensive outburst was a welcomed added bonus. It was a performance that the junior guard needed to boost his confidence.
“I was just making shots tonight,” Stitt said. “In the first four games I was getting good looks, but just didn’t make the shots. Rick Barry told me last year to keep on shooting and my teammates kept believing in me. So did the coaching staff and that was important. I knew eventually they would start falling for me.”
Freshman guard Jonathan Burroughs-Cook came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points. Cook made 5 of 6 shots, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. Canyon Barry added 15 points and Adjehi Baru chipped in 14 points, six rebounds and a blocked shot.
“Getting minutes like that for Jonathan was very important,” Wojcik said. “We want to get him on the floor to get some experience.”
The Cougars led just 37-30 at halftime, but used a 10-2 run to start the second half to open up the game.
Barry’s three-pointer from the corner gave Charleston a 47-32 advantage with 17:31 to play, and the Cougars never looked back.
Wojcik was able to relax in the second half as the Cougars pushed their advantage to 20, 25 and eventually 30 points.
Fifteen Charleston players in all got into the game.
“It was nice to be able to get everyone some minutes,” Wojcik said. “We played a tough early season schedule, so I wasn’t able to do that. It was nice to be able to reward everyone.”
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