Cougars continue to struggle

The 3-point shot can win or lose a game in college basketball.

Just ask College of Charleston.

Tavon Allen scored 18 points and Damion Lee added 12 points to lead Drexel past College of Charleston, 59-45, Saturday before a homecoming crowd of 3,769 at TD Arena.

Despite outplaying Drexel in many different facets of the game, the Cougars were unable make a single 3-point basket against the Dragons.

The Cougars (7-18, 2-10 CAA) missed all 11 shots they took from 3-point range, the first time in 15 years the Cougars have gone without a 3-point basket in a game. Charleston missed all four 3-pointers in a game against Davidson on Jan. 15, 2000. Two years ago, the Cougars were 1 for 11 against Davidson in the Southern Conference tournament championship game.

This was two days after the Cougars made 8 of 19 shots from 3-point range and shot a season-high 54.5 percent from the floor in an 80-72 win over William & Mary.

The Cougars came into Saturday shooting 37.8 percent from 3-point range in Colonial Athletic Association games. Only William & Mary and Northeastern have better shooting percentages from distance.

“I really don’t have any explanation for why we shot so poorly,” said College of Charleston coach Earl Grant. “We’re a good 3-point shooting team and tonight we go 0 for 11. Of those 11, we had eight open looks at the basket. The shots just didn’t fall for us. It wasn’t our day.”

Meanwhile, the Dragons (9-14, 7-5) won for the fifth straight time connecting on 9 of 15 3-pointers. It was the highest 3-point percentage for a Cougars opponent all season.

“We had some good shots, some open 3’s that just didn’t go down for us,” said Cougars senior guard Anthony Stitt, who finished with a team-high 15 points. “They made nine 3-pointers and we didn’t make any. That’s pretty much the story of the game right there.”

Charleston’s poor shooting from distance seemed to seep into the rest of its offensive game. The Cougars missed point-blank shots around the rim, converting on just 16 of 55 shots (29.1 percent) from the floor.

“I thought we had a lot of opportunities to score the ball around the basket, especially early,” Grant said. “We’d get a two-on-one or a three-on-one in transition and we couldn’t make the layup. It was almost like we were looking for the foul and then we’d miss when there was no foul.”

It wasn’t for a lack of effort either. The Cougars had 16 offensive rebounds to just three for Drexel and committed only seven turnovers.

“I can’t fault their effort,” Grant said. “Those offensive rebounds are effort stats. That means you’re working hard. Anytime you outrebound a team 16-3 on the offensive boards it means you are fighting to get to the ball. It wasn’t effort. It was shooting and I really don’t have a lot of answers for what happened to our shooting today.”

The loss overshadowed another fine defensive performance from freshman Cameron Johnson. Johnson limited Lee to just three baskets and 12 points. Lee came into the game leading the league in scoring, averaging more than 21 points a game.

“Cameron did a great job,” Grant said. “He challenged the best player in the league in Damion Lee and did a good job.”

The struggled from outset to score going more than eight minutes without a point during the first half. Drexel used the drought by the Cougars to build an early double-digit lead and never looked back.

It was a disappointing follow-up for the Cougars who beat William & Mary, the top team in the CAA, Thursday night.

“Sometimes it takes a lot more mental toughness to come back from a win than it does a loss,” said Cougar guard Joe Chealey, who finished with 11 points. “We’re still trying to figure that out. We need to figure out how to put a full game together and put wins together.”