Cougars bounce back in a big way against William & Mary

After losing three out of their last four games, the men’s basketball team delivered a strong performance on Wednesday night as they beat William & Mary, 87-54, at TD Arena.

Charleston (14-14, 6-7) came out of the gate with plenty of energy, forcing a shot clock violation on the Tribe’s first possession, which was a stark comparison to Saturday night’s lethargic effort in their loss to Northeastern.

The combination of aggressive defense and hot shooting helped the Cougars build their lead in the first half.

Willis Hall scored 14 in the first half on 5-6 shooting, showing immediate signs of breaking out of his recent scoring slump. Canyon Barry chipped in nine first half points as the Cougars went into halftime with a 16-point lead.

The second half was more of the same for Charleston, coming out of the break with a quick 13-5 run to extend the lead to 24.

The Cougars shot a scorching 80 percent from the field in the second half, while holding William & Mary (16-10, 8-5) to 37 percent shooting for the game.

Canyon Barry scored 17 points in Wednesday night's win. (Photo by Colin Johnson)

Canyon Barry scored 17 points in Wednesday night’s win.
(Photo by Colin Johnson)

Charleston looked more rested than they have in recent games, consistently driving the ball to the basket for easy layups and high percentage shots.

The catalyst for the efficient Charleston offense was Anthony Sitt, who tallied 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Sitt played a majority of the game, as backup guard Joe Chealey was sidelined indefinitely after undergoing a knee procedure.

“Anthony Sitt had a phenomenal game, maybe the best game I’ve coached him in,” Head Coach Doug Wojcik said. “He had a nice pace to him, he pushed [the ball] when he could, he pitched the ball ahead, and he came off screens and shot well. I give him a lot of credit.”

The Cougars’ 87 points were a season high in CAA play.

The game was capped off by a spectacular one handed dunk by Theo Johnson with less than a minute to play, which propelled the TD Arena crowd to give the Cougars a standing ovation.

Hall led Charleston with 21 points and nine rebounds. Barry scored 17, continuing his double digit scoring streak, and added five assists. Nori Johnson had 16 points on 4-7 shooting from three-point range.

Johnson drew the defensive assignment on Tribe guard Marcus Thornton, who averages over 19 points a contest, and held him to just nine points on 3-12 shooting.

“Just a really complete performance for us. I keep saying if we could ever put it all together, and we really did tonight,” Wojcik said. “Just an absolute great game by my guys and a phenomenal defense performance, mainly Nori [Johnson] on Marcus Thornton.”

And when asked about his team’s great shooting, Hall gave the Charleston media a new term to hang onto.

“We call it chang-ing,” Hall commented. “In practice, when we are really stroking it, we call it chang-ing, so there’s the terminology your looking for.”

The win puts the Cougars in fifth place in the CAA standings, tied with Drexel for fourth and two games back of William & Mary for third.

Charleston hits the road for two games at UNC Wilmington on Saturday and at Drexel next Wednesday. The final home game of the regular season is on March 1 against conference leading Delaware at 2 p.m.

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