College of Charleston’s Canyon Barry came into Tuesday night’s game against Coastal Carolina as one of the top scorers in the nation.
Barry, a 6-6 junior guard/forward, was averaging 28 points a game and had topped the 30-point plateau twice already this season.
Coastal Carolina was determined not to let Barry beat them Tuesday night.
Badou Diagne scored 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Elijah Wilson added 14 points to lead four Coastal Carolina players in double figures as the Chanticleers rallied to beat College of Charleston, 67-61, Tuesday night at TD Arena.
The Chanticleers (3-2) shot 55.3 percent from the floor and outscored the Cougars 34-8 in the paint in the victory, but the key was stopping Barry, who finished the night with a season-low eight points.
The Chanticleers, the two-time defending Big South tournament champions, used a smothering defense, running fresh bodies at Barry all night. When that didn’t work, they double-teamed Barry, forcing the Colorado Springs, Co., native to give up the ball or force him into tough shot attempts. Barry didn’t get off his first shot attempt until there were six minutes left in the opening half.
“I thought our defense was wonderful,” said Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis. “We were able to hold Barry down and I think that was a big key to the game. We kept fresh bodies on him and we wanted to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible. If he put the ball on the floor, we wanted to run another defender at him. We wanted to make sure it was tough on him.”
College of Charleston (2-2) coach Earl Grant said Barry better get used to opponents keying on him defensively.
“They did a great job of chasing Canyon around the floor,” Grant said. “They ran two people at him a lot. Any ball screen or when he had a chance to get a shot off, they made sure he gave the ball up. He wasn’t going to score like he has the first three games all season. I expected someone to come in and slow him down. He’ll need to get accustomed to people defending him like that, and when they do he’ll make the adjustment and continue to score the ball.”
Even without Barry scoring, the Cougars still could have won the game. Sophomore guard Cameron Johnson picked up the scoring slack, finishing with a season-high 20 points, and the Cougars led 48-43 with 9:08 to play in the game.
“We were in a great position to win that game,” Grant said. “We need to learn how to finish games. We had a couple of great opportunities to extend our lead to eight or 10 points and didn’t capitalize. That’s the next step we have to take. When we’ve got a lead, learn how to finish a game.”
Trailing by five points midway through the second half, the Chanticleers went on a 12-2 run to take a 55-50 lead on Wilson’s free throw with 3:47 to play.
The Cougars answered with back-to-back baskets on a layup from Jarrell Brantley and a Cameron 3-pointer to tie the game at 55-55 with 2:41 to play.
But a Jaylen Shaw layup, a short jumper from Wilson and another layup from Shaw and the Chanticleers pushed their advantage back to 63-55 with less than a minute to play.
“Our bigs were not totally to blame for all those points in the paint,” Grant said. “Our guards let them penetrate and get to the rim.”
The Cougars will face Western Carolina on Friday beginning at 3 p.m. at TD Arena.