College of Charleston falls to previously winless Marist, 69-62
College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik tried to tell anyone that would listen all week that winless Marist was a dangerous team.
Of course, no one listened. It was just coach talk, right?
Just another coach trying to pump up an undeserving opponent so his players, the fans and the media wouldn't take the Red Foxes lightly after starting the season 0-9.
Well, this time it wasn't just coach talk.
Chavaughn Lewis scored 18 points and Khalid Hart added 16 points to lead previously winless Marist past College of Charleston, 69-62, before a crowd of 1,770 Sunday afternoon at TD Arena.
Earlier in the week, Wojcik had made a point during interviews to highlight the fact that every team the Red Foxes had played this season had a winning record except one - Morgan State.
But the 0-9 record was hard to ignore as was the fact that the Cougars had beaten Marist, 85-75, a year ago on the road.
Junior guard Anthony Stitt said the Cougars were prepared for a battle against Marist, but that they didn't come out with the intensity they needed in the first half.
"The coaches don't let us take any team lightly," said Stitt, who finished with 14 points and four assists. "I just thought we didn't start the game very well. We were lackadaisical defensively and there was no sense of urgency. We really struggle with getting down early and then trying to find that sense of urgency. We need to put our foot on the gas pedal from the beginning of the game. "
It didn't help the Cougars' cause that Red Foxes rarely missed in the first half, especially from 3-point range. Marist was 16 of 30 from the floor, including five of nine from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes on their way to a 15-point lead.
"It was an embarrassing home loss," Wojcik said. "You can't look at someone's record. We gave them confidence at the beginning of the game. T.J. Curry makes a couple of threes to start the game and, unfortunately, that gave them confidence early."
The Fed Foxes (1-9) slowly built a lead, using a 14-2 run to take a 20-11 advantage on Lewis' 3-pointer with 12:07 to play before halftime.
"We dug ourselves a hole and it was too big for us to climb out of," said Willis Hall, who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cougars cut it to 27-24 on Hall's 18-foot jumper with 6:07 to play before intermission.
Marist ended the half on a flurry, outscoring the Cougars 16-4 to take a 43-28 lead at halftime.
Charleston came roaring back in the second half behind Hall, who scored 17 second-half points.
Trailing 53-40 with more than 16 minutes to play, Hall scored nine unanswered points on his own and cut the gap to 53-49 on a 3-pointer with 10:21 to play.
"Give the kids a lot of credit because they came roaring back," Wojcik said. "It just wasn't enough in the end after we had dug ourselves that kind of deficit."
Three times the Cougars cut the lead to just two points in the final seven minutes and three times the Red Foxes came up with an answer to halt Charleston's momentum.
"We do need to execute better down the stretch," Wojcik said. "The guys gave really good effort. We just couldn't get over the hump when we got it close."
Adjehi Baru, who was in foul trouble early in the game, finished with nine points, seven rebounds and one block.
Curry had 12 points and Adam Kemp chipped in 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for the Red Foxes.
The Cougars (4-6) will travel to Old Dominion on Wednesday before returning home to face Kent State on Saturday at TD Arena.