Like a recurring bad dream, the College of Charleston proved it could play with the elite teams of the Colonial Athletic Association for a half of basketball.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, a game is 40 minutes long.
William & Mary's Marcus Thornton and Brandon Britt each scored 16 points as the Tribe rallied from a double-digit first half deficit to beat the College of Charleston, 70-59, Saturday night in the quarterfinals of the CAA Tournament at Baltimore Arena.
The Cougars finished a disappointing season with a 14-18 mark. The Tribe (19-11) will take on Towson in the semifinals of the CAA Tournament Sunday afternoon.
The Cougars led by as many as 14 points, but could not find any offensive rhythm over the final 20 minutes as they were outscored 42-19 in the second half.
"This was kind of a microcosm of our entire season," said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. "At the end of the day it was our inability to make shots, open shots, that doomed us again. It's kind of been the story for us all season. I told the guys all week, if we score 72 points in each of the three games we will win the championship. We scored 59 points and that's not going to get it done."
The Cougars could do little wrong in the first half against the Tribe, scoring 40 points, the second most points CofC had scored in a half all season. The Cougars went on a 16-5 run midway through the first half to grab a 29-17 lead on Willis Hall's 3-pointer with 7:09 to play.
The Cougars led by as many as 14 points, 36-22, on Anthony Stitt's 3-pointer with 2:37 to play in the opening half and went into the locker room with a 40-28 advantage.
"We did a lot of good things in the first half," Wojcik said. "We were knocking down our shots and our defense was really good. We just didn't do it for an entire game."
It appeared that the second half was going to be more of the same as Charleston's Anthony Thomas drove to the basket for an uncontested layup on the Cougars first possession to give Charelston a 42-28 lead.
But William & Mary coach Tony Shaver called a quick timeout and verbally went after his players.
The Tribe responded with a 11-2 run to cut the gap to 44-39 on Thornton's 15-foot jumper with 15:20 to play.
Stitt hit a layup to end the run, but by then the damage had been done. A Thomas layup with 8:33 to play gave the Cougars a 53-50 lead, but the Tribe answered with an 8-0 and took a 58-53 lead on Britt's three-point play with 6:12 to play.
The Cougars had plenty of chances to cut into the Tribe's lead and get back into the game, but couldn't make a shot. The Cougars missed all 10 3-point attempts they took in the second half.
"Our effort was terrific, our defense and rebounder were terrific, it was our inability to make shots and get to the free throw line that did us in," Wojcik said. "It's just real frustrating to watch because it's the same thing we've seen all year. The guys played hard, they gave great effort all season, we just didn't make enough shots."
Hall led the Cougars with 15 points and 14 rebounds and Thomas chipped in 14 points. Stitt finished with 11 points.
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