Antwaine Wiggins' lob pass to a high-flying Trent Wiedeman for a monster dunk Saturday afternoon did more than bring Cougars fans to their feet and provide quality footage for the highlight reel.
It was the final play in a six-minute stretch that gave College of Charleston the margin required for a 55-47 victory over The Citadel before 4,166 at McAlister Field House. And it demonstrated exactly how the Cougars did it -- by forcing enough turnovers to fuel their fastbreak, however briefly.
"It was challenging," said Wiggins, who along with
Anthony Stitt scored 12 points. "The Citadel slowed it down, and we're used to speeding up. We couldn't really get in our groove like we wanted to."
Determined to make the game a possession-by-possession grind, as they had in winning their last two games, the Bulldogs had a 28-27 lead after a Lawrence Miller 3-pointer with 14:24 to play.
"Right where we wanted to be," said Citadel coach Chuck Driesell.
But over the next four minutes, the Cougars' press -- with the 6-7 Wiggins at the top -- forced two turnovers, and Wiedeman blocked a Mike Groselle shot. Those plays sparked a 7-0 run, on 3-pointer by Matt Sundberg and Wiedeman's layup and SportsCenter-worthy dunk, for a 34-28 lead.
The lead eventually reached 10, and the Bulldogs could get no closer than four in the final minute. The Citadel committed 17 turnovers (11 on Cougar steals), leading to 18 Charleston points.
"It was a conflict of styles," said Cougars coach Mark Byington. "Coach Driesell is doing what he has to do with his team to be successful, and they gave us all we could handle today."
Both teams have reason to feel good heading to the Southern Conference Tournament in Asheville next week. The Cougars (19-11, 10-8) won't get a bye as the South Division No. 4 seed, but have won three straight and six of seven heading into a first-round game with reeling Appalachian State (12-17, 7-11) on Friday.
"I'm real confident," Wiggins said. "We've got a full roster and everybody's healthy. We played real well at the start of the season with a full roster. We're going in with a lot of depth and a lot of confidence."
The Bulldogs (6-23, 3-15) seem to have found a slow-down style they can take to the tournament with some assurance. They beat Chattanooga and App State after snapping an 11-game skid, and face the North No. 3 team on Friday.
"It's clearly worked," said Groselle, who posted his 14th double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. "We're still making mistakes, we're still a young team, but we're really going to hone in and fix those mistakes."
Groselle tied Regan Truesdale's school record for career double-doubles with 22, and DeVontae Wright scored 10 points, all from the foul line, for The Citadel.
Andrew Lawrence scored 11 points for Charleston, and Wiedeman had three blocks to go with six points and seven rebounds.