Over the last four days, the College of Charleston has been in position to beat the top two teams in the Colonial Athletic Association on the road.
The Cougars led Delaware, a team that has not lost a conference game, by 20 points with nine minutes left to play Wednesday night, only to stumble down the stretch and eventually lose 67-64.
On Saturday, the Cougars led Towson, the second-place team in the CAA, by four points with less than two minutes to play only to come up short again - this time in overtime.
It's been that kind of week for the Cougars.
Towson all-purpose forward Jerrelle Benimon, the reigning CAA player of the year, scored 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds and Mike Burwell added 14 points to lead the Tigers past College of Charleston, 68-61, in overtime at SECU Arena on Saturday afternoon.
"It's been a brutal week as far as travel and having to play the two best teams in the conference on the road," said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. "But I can't say enough about the kids' effort in these two games. We've proven we can play with the best this league has to offer. Their effort was tremendous, especially after losing like we did up at Delaware. I'm really proud of the way we played today.
"I'm not happy about losing and you never should be, but I can't fault our preparation, our intensity or our effort. It was all there. We just need to execute in those crucial moments of the game."
Much like Wednesday against Delaware, the Cougars (12-13, 4-6 CAA) had a chance to beat Towson (16-8, 7-2) at the end of regulation, but Nori Johnson's deep 3-pointer bounced off the rim in the final seconds to send the game into overtime.
"We ran something for Anthony (Stitt) to get him downhill and if that got cut off, then he had the option of going to Willis (Hall) or Nori," Wojcik said. "Nori got a pretty good look, it was a pretty deep shot, but the ball doesn't fall."
Unlike on Wednesday, the Cougars did a much better job of taking care of the ball. Charleston committed a season-high 26 turnovers in the loss to Delaware, but had just five Saturday against the Tigers.
"Much better job of taking care of the ball," Wojcik said. "We had 11 assists too, so we did a better job of sharing the ball as well."
Much like Wednesday night against the Blue Hens, missed free throws haunted the Cougars.
Benimon, who scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 72-57 win at TD Arena in January, proved to be a difference-maker again. Benimon scored seven of the Tigers' 15 points in overtime and scored eight of the Tigers final 12 points in regulation.
"Benimon is the most difficult matchup in the league," Wojcik said. "He can beat you in so many different ways. We threw everything at him. He's just a great player in this league."
In a game that featured 10 ties and 10 lead changes, the Cougars led at halftime, 27-24, after falling behind early in the first half.
The teams traded baskets throughout the second half as neither team was able to seize the momentum.
Benimon gave Towson a lead it never relinquished when he made two free throws with 4:17 left in overtime. Moments later, sophomore Timajh Parker-Rivera finished off a fast break with a dunk off a pass from Marcus Damas with 3:40 left, giving Towson a 57-53 advantage.
A rebound layup by Cougars freshman Canyon Barry pulled Charleston within 57-55 before Benimon gave the Tigers a 59-55 advantage with his driving layup with 2:09 remaining. Anthony Stitt made one of two free throws to trim the lead to 59-56 before Benimon scored on a baseline layup to give Towson a 61-56 lead with 1:14 remaining.
Barry led the Cougars with 14 points, while Willis Hall added 13 points and hauled down eight rebounds.
The Cougars will face Drexel Thursday night at TD Arena.
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