College of Charleston downs Davidson, 76-64
College of Charleston forward Willis Hall had never won in his hometown.
And while Davidson, N.C., isn't technically Hall's hometown, the Charlotte native had not beaten Davidson in three previous trips to Belk Arena during his career.
That streak came to an end Wednesday afternoon as Hall scored a career-high 26 points and pulled down a career-high 21 rebounds to lead the Cougars past Davidson, 76-64, before a crowd of 3,816 at Belk Arena.
The Cougars (7-7) victory snapped a three-game losing streak to the Wildcats (4-10), who lost for the fifth straight time. Davidson beat Charleston all three times last season, including in the Southern Conference tournament finals.
For the first three years of his career, Hall had played in the SoCon and had won on each school's home floor except one - Davidson. Although the Cougars moved to the Colonial Athletic Association this year, Hall was thinking about that winless drought during the Cougars' three-hour bus ride to Davidson on Tuesday afternoon.
"I kind of went down the list and started thinking that I'd beaten every team in the Southern Conference at their place except Davidson," Hall said. "We'd come close a couple of times, but had never been able to win here, so this was a big game for me. I want to win every time I play, but I wanted to win at home, too, because I'd never done it."
Hall made sure it happened. Hall's monster game of more than 20 points and 20 rebounds is thought to be the first 20-20 game in school history. Hall never came off the floor, playing the entire 40 minutes, connecting on 10 of 14 shots from the floor with 18 of his 21 rebounds coming on the defensive end.
"Willis had an unbelievable game," said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. "It wasn't just the points and rebounds. It was his leadership and his toughness, especially in the second half. He played big on both ends of the floor. He came up really, really big for us."
After giving up eight offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points to Davidson in the first half, the Cougars limited the Wildcats to just one offensive rebound and two second-chance points in the final 20 minutes. It was the difference in the game.
"We challenged them at halftime," Wojcik said. "We felt like we were the better rebounding team, but we hadn't proved it during the first half. I think last year Davidson beat us with their experience and toughness. This year, I think we were the tougher team, especially on the glass, and Willis led the way."
Senior Nori Johnson, who had played sparingly during the first two months of the season, came off the bench to score 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
"Nori has always been able to shoot the ball," Wojcik said. "Teams have to respect his shooting and that's stretching the defense, which opens up things for us in the paint."
CofC guard Anthony Stitt turned in another solid performance, finishing with six points and a game-high nine assists.
"Anthony is making decisions with the basketball," Wojcik said. "He's playing at such a high level right now."
Trailing 35-33 at halftime, the Cougars played a nearly flawless second half. Charleston, which is 14-3 over the last two seasons in true road games, hit 62.5 percent of its attempts from the field to finish the game shooting 57.8 percent.
When Hall wasn't scoring, Anthony Thomas was driving to the basket and either scoring or getting fouled. Thomas finished with 11 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
"Anthony can take just about anyone off the dribble," Wojcik said. "He had a strong second half for us."
Trailing 44-43 with 13:29 to play, College of Charleston used a 19-4 run capped off by an Adjehi Baru 3-point play to grab the largest lead by either team to that point, 62-48. Davidson closed to within seven late in the contest on a Jake Belford 3-pointer with 2:44 remaining, but that's as close as the Wildcats would get the rest of the way.
Davidson was led by Brian Sullivan's 14 points.
The Cougars return to action Saturday against Howard beginning at 4 p.m. at TD Arena.