Minus Baru, Cougars drop another close game against Texas A&M in Puerto Rico

Anthony Stitt led the Cougars with 10 points in the absence of Adjehi Baru. (Photo courtesy of CofCSports.com.)

Anthony Stitt led the Cougars with 10 points in the absence of Adjehi Baru.
(Photo courtesy of CofCSports.com.)

In the second game of the Puerto Rico Tipoff tournament, the College of Charleston fell in another close game, 59-50, to Texas A&M University on Friday afternoon.

After battling to the final buzzer against No.17 Connecticut on Thursday, Charleston found themselves down their top big man, forward Adjehi Baru, against a physical Texas A&M squad from the powerful Southeastern Conference. Baru sat out with a lower leg injury that he sustained late in the game against the Huskies.

The Cougars came out firing in the first half against the Aggies, taking an early 13-8 lead on jumpers by guards Anthony Stitt and Cameron Johnson. Effective play from Charleston’s guards was a big reason why the Cougars used a 7-0 run to take an eight-point lead late in the first half.

Freshman forward Donovan Gilmore filled in admirably for Baru, leading the Cougars with six points and three rebounds as Charleston took a 26-20 lead into halftime.

Charleston did not come out of the break with the same efficiency on the offensive end, turning the ball over on their first four possessions. The Cougars did, however, take a seven-point lead, 29-22, on a three ball from Stitt.

Very much like what happened against UConn, the Cougars proceeded to go over five minutes without a field goal, allowing the Aggies to tie the game at 29.

Guard Joe Chealey broke the cold spell and the tie with a driving layup to give Charleston a two-point lead.

With the Cougars experiencing a lack of depth in the front court minus Baru, head coach Earl Grant turned to sophomore forward Glenn Pierre, Jr., who provided quality minutes despite not seeing much action early in the season. Pierre scored on two consecutive possessions for Charleston to give them a 35-31 lead.

Chealey would convert on the next possession to give the Cougars a five-point lead with just under nine minutes remaining, but Texas A&M went on a 12-2 run to take a 44-39 lead.

Charleston hung close, drawing within two on a layup by Stitt with 2:05 left, but the lack of depth up front led to easy scores for the Aggies as they pulled away from the Cougars in the final two minutes.

Both Stitt and Chealey finished with 10 points a piece for Charleston. Pierre turned in a career-high eight points in Baru’s absence.

The Cougars will now play the loser of New Mexico vs. George Mason on Sunday morning at 11:30. That game will be broadcast online via ESPN3.

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