Cheers could be heard, from the College of Charleston (19-11,10-8 SoCon) section painted maroon and the Citadel (6-23, 3-15 SoCon) section painted blue, during the cross-town match up Saturday. The teams divided the game 21-21 at the half but the Cougars trapped the Bulldogs with a defensive strategy to bring them the win, 55-47.
“In the second half, we got going with our defense. We got some steals and got some turnovers,” said interim head coach Mark Byington. “Right now, we are a defense first team. Defense is the strongest thing we do.”
Defensively speaking the Cougar picked up 11 steals from the Bulldogs and picked up 18 points from turnovers.
Andrew Lawrence had tough time with fouls, eventually fouling out of the game, but not before collecting 11 points and three steals.
“Anthony Stitt had a couple of good steals and finished them,” said Byington. “That play from Antwaine (Wiggins) to Trent (Wiedeman) was also a really big play for us.”
Stitt, Wiggins, and Wiedeman each had great performances for the Cougars. The freshman Stitt, often regarded as a clutch player for the Cougars, and Wiggins, the senior leader of the team, each came up with 12 points.
Wiggins led the Wiggins/Wiedeman play of the night where Wiggins created an alley-oop for Wiedeman to complete with a slam-dunk. After this the maroon section was at an all time loud and the remaining 13 minutes of play were momentous for the Cougars.
“We know every team in the conference is getting ready for the tournament, so we are trying to get in tournament mode ourselves – just play hard and take control of every possession, because that’s how you win big games,” said Wiggins.“We started to press them in the second half and they would turn over the ball and we got points off their turnovers.”
For a team who can often win their games on 3-pointers and range shooting, the Cougars only shot 15.8 percent (3-of-19) from beyond the arc. The Cougars are nationally ranked at No. 30 for field goals made.
“We knew we would have to play defense. Our offense wasn’t there, so we just had to grind it out on defense, and then, we got some offensive transitions and that was enough for us to pull out the win,” said Stitt.
In terms of the Southern Conference Tournament, the Coach Byington and the team have paid their dues and are ready for Ashville.
“We have been tested, we have learned a lot and we are prepared for the Southern Conference Tournament,” said Byington.