BOONE, N.C. - The Citadel's new slow-it-down philosophy has worked well enough to keep the Bulldogs in their last two basketball games until the final minutes.
But the slower pace has not yet helped the Bulldogs snap a losing streak that's now reached 13 games, the latest a 54-45 loss at Appalachian State on Thursday.
The Citadel trailed by just 44-43 with 2:03 left in the game before the Mountaineers closed on a 10-2 run to complete a season sweep of the Bulldogs. App State, which heads to the Sun Belt next season, won the teams' last meeting as Southern Conference rivals to improve to 7-15 overall and 3-6 in the SoCon.
The Citadel fell to 4-21 overall and 0-10 in the SoCon, its 13-game skid the Bulldogs' longest since 2005-06 and tied for the third-longest in school history. The 1954-55 team lost 14 straight, and in 1953-54 the Bulldogs lost 16 in a row.
But fourth-year coach Chuck Driesell thinks slowing things down will eventually pay off for his team, which plays host to Wofford on Saturday. The Bulldogs had 50 possessions in a 62-43 loss at Davidson last Saturday, in a game that was close until the final give minutes. They had 54 possessions at App State, both figures far below the Division I average of 67.1
"Our guys are getting used to playing at this pace," said Driesell, whose team was led by 13 points from Quinton Marshall and 12 from Matt Van Scyoc. "And that's something that will benefit us as we continue through the season. But when you play like that and limit your possessions, you've got to finish your shots when you get open shots. That's what cost us the game. Our defense was solid."
The Citadel made just 18 of 50 shots (36 percent), 5 of 15 from 3-point range. Forward P.J. Horgan, who has replaced freshman Brian White in the starting lineup, was 0 of 6. White, who entered averaging 12.3 points, played just five minutes and failed to score for the first time this season.
Guards Tab Hamilton and Mike Neal led App State with 17 and 15 points, respectively, while forward Tommy Spagnolo had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bulldogs were out-scored by a total of 18-2 at the end of each half. They gave up an 8-0 run at the end of the first half, including a bucket by Mike Kobani with one second left for a 27-21 lead at the break. It was the fifth time in six games The Citadel has allowed a buzzer-beater at the half.
It was 44-43 with 2:08 left in the game when the wheels came off for the Bulldogs, who missed four of their last five shots with one turnover. App State got a jumper from Hamilton, a clutch hook shot from Spagnolo and made 6 of 6 from the foul line in that stretch.
Citadel forward C.J. Bray, making his second straight start, scored all nine of his points in the first half and added five rebounds in 27 minutes.
"He gave us a lift," Driesell said. "You could feel it on the team, a big guy stepping up to play well, and that helped. We just need some more firepower on the offensive end, and to make some of these shots we are getting that are really uncontested."
Wofford (12-10, 7-3) used a 32-9 run to come from 12 points down for a 74-61 win over Georgia Southern on Thursday, with Karl Cochran scoring 29 points. The Terriers beat The Citadel in overtime, 79-75, on Jan. 9.