College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik wasn’t sure what to expect Monday night against Northeastern.
The Cougars had suffered a disappointing 75-71 loss to Hofstra on Saturday afternoon and then took a 220-mile bus trip from New York City to Boston to take on the Huskies.
Wojcik was hoping he’d see a resilient bunch on Monday against Northeastern, and that’s exactly what he got from the Cougars.
College of Charleston senior forward Anthony Thomas scored 16 points and Willis Hall added 14 points and 13 rebounds to lead the College of Charleston past Northeastern, 58-49, Monday night at historic Matthews Arena.
It was the first road win in the Colonial Athletic Association for the Cougars, who won for the fifth time in their last six games and improved to 10-8 overall and 2-1 in the CAA. Northeastern, which won the regular season CAA title a year ago, fell to 4-13 and 1-2.
“I’m really proud of the team, and I think one of the things we’ve done really well is bounce back after a loss,” Wojcik said. “After we lost to Hofstra on Saturday I wasn’t sure what we’d get, and credit the guys, they bounced back. They made some shots when we had to. Anthony Stitt and Anthony Thomas really bounced back and played well.”
The Huskies had no answer for Thomas, who dominated at both ends of the floor. The 6-7 Winston-Salem, N.C., native had his best all-around game of the season, connecting on 7 of 14 shots, hauling down nine rebounds and dishing out a team-high five assists.
“I didn’t play that well against Hofstra, and I wanted to make up for that,” Thomas said. “I’m not a very vocal guy, so I’m trying to lead by example. I want to get to the rim, play good defense and rebound.”
After a couple of off games for Hall, the 6-6 senior responded with his sixth double-double of the season. It was the 10th of his career.
“I think Willis was another guy that kind of wanted to make amends for Saturday, and he did in a big way,” Wojcik said. “He hit some (3-pointers) early and then worked really hard on the glass for us.”
It was a defensive struggle for most of the game. The two teams combined for just 40 points in the first half, with the Huskies leading 21-19 going into the locker room.
The two teams continued to exchange baskets for the first part of the second half, but with the game tied at 35-35, the Cougars went on a 10-0 run.
A short jumper and a layup from Thomas and a crucial 3-pointer from freshman Joe Chealey highlighted the run.
“We are really starting to share the basketball,” Wojcik said. “We had another positive assist-to-turnover ratio tonight (12 assists and 10 turnovers). We’ve scored in the 60s and 70s and not had 12 assists. Joe’s 3-pointer was just a huge shot for us. It really gave us some breathing room.”
Northeastern’s Scott Eatherton finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds but was held in check in the second half by the defense of Adjehi Baru.
“Eatherton is a really, really good player,” Wojcik said. “He kicked our butts in the first half, and we challenged Adjehi at halftime. Adjehi buckled down and played to his potential defensively in the second half.”
The only negative from the game was the Cougars’ free throw shooting — again. After going 14 of 27 against Hofstra in Saturday’s loss, the Cougars were just 8 of 17 against the Huskies.
“If we shoot free throws well in both games, we’d be 3-0 in the league right now,” Wojcik said. “That’s something we work on every day and we need to get better on.”
The Cougars will take on Towson on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at TD Arena.
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