The College of Charleston put on a second-half clinic, both offensively and defensively, in rolling to a 79-54 win over Wofford in a battle for first place in the Southern Conference South Division on Thursday night.
A crowd of 5,038, just a few tickets short of a Carolina First Arena sellout, watched Charleston outscore the Terriers, 20-5, to start the second half, and the Cougars (16-7, 9-2 SoCon) never let up in completing a season sweep of the Terriers.
Wofford, which travels to The Citadel on Saturday, fell to 12-11 and 9-3. Charleston is a half-game ahead of the Terriers and Furman (9-3), which beat The Citadel on Thursday. The Paladins, who also lost earlier in the season to Charleston, visit Carolina First Arena on Saturday for a 4 p.m. game that will be televised on CSS. The game is homecoming for the College of Charleston.
Coming off a loss against Davidson that was preceded by a narrow victory over winless Georgia Southern, Thursday's performance was exactly what the Cougars and their fans needed.
"It was a great win, but no rest for the weary. We know Furman beat Wofford at Wofford and they beat South Carolina," Cougars coach Bobby Cremins said.
Charleston held a narrow lead for most of the first half, but Wofford battled back and eventually took a four-point lead just before the buzzer. The Terriers were ahead,
34-32, at the half, but things quickly turned sour when the teams returned to the court.
Wofford was caught on a 5-second inbounds violation to start the half, Andrew Goudelock hit a pair of 3-pointers and Antwaine Wiggins scored a second-chance basket to give the Cougars an 8-0 start and a 40-34 lead. The Terriers responded with two baskets to cut Charleston's lead to two, but the Cougars went on a 12-1 tear to take a 52-39 lead.
After watching his team endure its worst loss of the season, Wofford coach Mike Young was able to introduce some levity into the postgame press conference when he found a couple of red and silver Hershey Kisses in front of the microphone.
"That's what I need after a tail-whipping like that, a Kiss. Cremins did that. I know he did," Young said.
"Hats off to the College of Charleston. I thought we had them exactly where we needed to be at halftime. I thought we guarded them well. They had a 40-percent field goal percentage the first half. The wheels came off a little bit. I can't explain how that happened or why that happened. They made shots. Charleston outplayed us in the second half.
"But we've got a lot more basketball to play. I've got a good basketball team. I hope we have the opportunity to play Charleston one more time."
Andrew Goudelock, who led Charleston with 25 points and six assists, said the Cougars played with a little more abandon in the second half.
"The first half, we were not playing like ourselves, me in particular. I was not trusting my teammates. The second half, we had a lot of people scoring, and a lot of people scoring on our team is deadly," said Goudelock, who pushed his school career scoring record to 2,235 points. "But we've got to put this behind us. We've got Furman coming in Saturday, and they are right in the pack. If we slip up, we are in the same predicament. We have to repeat the same effort."
Wiggins, who had 13 points and six rebounds, said the Cougars coaching staff stressed crashing the boards and getting second-chance baskets.
Charleston had several wins on the stat sheet that had the coaches smiling. After committing 34 turnovers in its two previous games, Charleston had eight against Wofford, with only one turnover in the final 20 minutes. The Cougars also outrebounded Wofford, 38-26, with freshman Trent Wiedeman grabbing eight and Willis Hall five.
But one of the brightest spots for Cremins was the play of senior forward Jeremy Simmons, who played 30 minutes despite bruised ribs. Simmons, who missed practice Monday and Tuesday and only ran up and down the court with no contact on Wednesday, had eight points and five rebounds.
Noah Dahlman, who became Wofford's Division I career scoring leader in the loss, had 22 points and nine rebounds to lead the Terriers. Dahlman needed six points to pass Ian Chadwick, who finished his career with 1,789 points.
Dahlman said the Terriers were not effective offensively in the second half.
"Looking back, we just missed open shots. Plain and simple," Dahlman said. "They collapsed (defensively) pretty well. It's one of those things. We have to come out Saturday ready to go."