Charleston wins CAA opener, 75-61, over JMU

Junior Anthony Stitt drives down the court.  Stitt achieved his career best in scoring as the Cougars defeated JMU. (Photo by Colin Johnson).

Anthony Stitt drives down the court. Stitt achieved his career high in points and helped the Cougars defeat JMU. (Photo by Colin Johnson).

After tallying a winter break record of 5-2, the men’s basketball team faced their first in-conference opponent as a new member of the Colonial Athletic Association on Tuesday, defeating James Madison University 75-61, at TD Arena.

The Cougars (9-7 overall, 1-0 CAA) were fueled by big games from Anthony Stitt and Nori Johnson. Stitt tied his career high in points (23) and three point field goals (5), while Johnson scored 18 and tied his career high in three point field goals with five.

Stitt opened the game hot for Charleston, connecting on three straight three pointers and had 11 points in the first seven minutes of the game.

The Cougars had a tough time finishing down low in the first half, with both Adjehi Baru and Willis Hall hampered by strong inside defense from JMU. Luckily for Charleston, the outside shot was dropping as they finished the half 7-12 from beyond the arc.

While Stitt provided the early boost, it was Johnson who stretched the lead in the second half.  With the Cougars clinging to a two point lead, Johnson converted a three point play off his own steal with just under ten minutes left in the half.

After a defensive stop by the Cougars that forced JMU into a shot clock violation, Johnson connected on three consecutive shots from the arc to push the Charleston lead to twelve with six and a half minutes to play.

“It was very exciting to score 75 points and Willis [Hall] and Adjehi [Baru] score eight, so that was exciting for our team,” said head coach Doug Wojcik, referring to the big games by Stitt, Johnson, and Anthony Thomas (10 points, 11 rebounds).

Guard Charles Cooke led James Madison (6-10 overall , 1-1 CAA) with 21 points, while pre-season 2nd Team All-CAA guard, Andre Nation, scored seven in his first game back from a fifteen game suspension.

“Like coach said, with two of our best scorers shooting 2 for 14, guys have to step up and I took it as a person challenge,” said Johnson about his 18 points. “As a team, we were prepared and took good shots.”

Charleston will go on the road to visit Hofstra on Saturday and Northeastern on Monday in two inter-conference matchups. The team returns home on the 19th to face Towson.

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