The College of Charleston's hole in the Southern Conference keeps getting deeper and deeper.
Furman, a team the Cougars beat by 23 points on the road a couple of weeks ago, came into TD Arena on Thursday and beat the College of Charleston, 69-63, before a crowd of 4,011. It was the Paladins' first win against the Cougars in the last 10 meetings, and it was the first time Furman had won on the Cougars' court since the 1952-53 season.
It also was Charleston's third straight loss, the first time that has happened since 2007-08, and dropped the Cougars into a tie with Furman for fourth place in the SoCon South. Both schools are now 4-5. Charleston, 2-6 since Christmas, fell to 12-8 overall while Furman improved to 10-10. Charleston next hosts Wofford at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Cougars coach Bobby Cremins praised Furman for its effort, but shouldered a lot of the blame for the loss.
"We were a frustrated team. That's my responsibility. I feel like I didn't have the team ready to play the first half. The second half we played with energy. I'm disappointed in myself," Cremins said.
"We tried some (different offensive schemes) earlier in the week and they were working, but I didn't stay with them. I decided to stay with what we had been doing. I was wrong."
A five-minute scoring drought and eight-minute span between field goals in the first half put the Cougars in a hole from which they were unable to recover.
With some assistance from the Paladins, who hit only 2 of 8 free throws in the final minute, the Cougars made a run, cutting the margin to five points with 35 seconds left, but were unable to cash in.
Furman took advantage of the Cougars' first-half shooting woes, jumping to a 28-18 lead. Charleston pulled within 31-25 at halftime, but the Cougars never got any closer than six until the final minute.
Charleston hit only 35 percent of its field-goal attempts (21 of 60) and was 4 for 23 (17.4 percent) from 3-point range.
Senior Antwaine Wiggins said all the Cougars can do is practice and work harder then they've been working in order to "fix things."
"We've been struggling with hitting our shots," Wiggins said. "They'll fall sooner or later, but we've got to figure out another way to get points besides the 3. We're a young team and have a lot of work to do."
Andrew Lawrence had 15 points and six assists to lead Charleston. Wiggins had 12 points and Trent Wiedeman added 10 points and 11 rebounds, his ninth double-double.
Furman was led by Brandon Sebirumbi, who scored 15 points and had nine rebounds. The Paladins shot 43.9 percent from the field and were 5 of 11 from 3-point distance.
Furman coach Jeff Jackson said he wasn't worried about the team's problems from the free-throw line in the final minute.
"We would have been happy to win by one," Jackson said. "We played with a lot of grit. We focused on the defensive end of the floor. It was nice to see us make that adjustment."
Cremins said the rough patch has been difficult for everyone.
"We've been doing a lot of adjustments and it's been hard," he said. "There's a lot going on, a lot of frustration. These losses are not easy for anybody. It's something we have to deal with and get better. I don't want it to get like a morgue (in the locker room. We have to hang tough. Nobody is more disappointed than I am. I feel terrible about it."