Cougs get chance at payback

College of Charleston's Adjehi Baru scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Cougars' 84-76 loss to George Mason in 2011, the last time the teams played each other. Charleston owns a 3-1 record against the Patriots. File Photo.

As it turns out, Andrew Lawrence will get to make an encore performance at TD Arena tonight.

The College of Charleston senior guard thought he had played his final home game last month on “Senior Night” when the Cougars beat Wofford, 55-50, on Feb. 28.

But Charleston was granted one more home game at TD Arena as the Cougars will face George Mason in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational Tuesday beginning at 7 p.m.

“Obviously, I thought Senior Night would be my last home game, but I get one more chance to play in front of our fans,” Lawrence said. “I didn’t think this opportunity was going to come up again, so I want to make the most of it.”

Lawrence wasn’t the only member of the Cougars’ athletic department surprised by the CBI’s decision to let Charleston host a game during the tournament.

In the past, CBI first-round games have required a $60,000 guarantee from the host school. This year the guarantee was lowered to $35,000 for first-round games, and Charleston athletic director Joe Hull told tournament officials the Cougars could host a game. Hull said he wasn’t sure if George Mason had requested a home game for the first round.

“We’ve been asked to host games in the past, but have turned them down because it didn’t make sense for us financially,” Hull said. “With the guarantee where it is this year, we could do it.”

Like Hull, Charleston coach Doug Wojcik was a little surprised that the Cougars will get to play another game at TD Arena. The Cougars, however, are just 11-7 at home this season and 13-3 away from TD Arena.

“We were fully prepared to play our first-round game on the road, so to get a home game is a really nice surprise for us,” Wojcik said. “It’s a good deal, a good game for us against a very good opponent and an opponent that our players and fans are familiar with.”

This will be the fifth time that the Cougars (24-10) and Patriots (18-14) have faced each other. The Cougars lead the all-time series, 3-1. George Mason, however, beat the Cougars, 84-76, in their last matchup last season.

The Patriots are led by guards Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen. Wright leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.5 points a game, while Allen averages 7.9 points and 3.5 assists a game.

“They have a really good backcourt,” Lawrence said. “They are really good at driving the ball to the basket. It’s going to be a really tough matchup for our perimeter guys. They have a lot of the same guys they had last season, and we kind of owe them for beating us here.”

Northeastern defeated George Mason, 69-67, in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament semifinals.

“We are familiar with Charleston after playing them last year,” Hewitt said. “Doug Wojcik has taken over and done a great job with the team this year.”

The winner of tonight’s game will move on to next Monday’s quarterfinals to play the winner of the Texas-Houston game.