In the debut of first-year head coach Earl Grant, the College of Charleston routed Furman University, 75-40, on Friday night in Greenville, S.C.
Grant could not have scripted a better start to his coaching career as his seniors, Anthony Stitt and Adjehi Baru, combined for 35 points to lead the way for the Cougars.
“I’m very fortunate that I came into a situation where we had good players and good senior leadership. My job has been a little easier, because of the type of kids that were already here in the program,” Grant said after the game.
Charleston came out firing early with two straight three pointers from sophomore guard Canyon Barry. Freshman guard Cameron Johnson played some early minutes for Grant and connected on two of his first three shots from behind the arc to push the Cougars lead to double digits.
The Cougars were aided by Furman’s poor shooting from the field and the free throw line. The Paladins missed seven of their first eight shots from the charity stripe.
Furman did not go down easy, however, as they used a cold streak by the Cougars to cut their 13-point deficit to four. Charleston went over three minutes without a made field goal.
The Cougars closed out the first half strong thanks to the hot touch of Baru. The senior forward scored three consecutive times for Charleston, the third score on a fast-break tomahawk dunk, to push the lead back to nine.
After freshman forward Donovan Gilmore scored on a jumper, Furman turned the ball over with five seconds left in the first half, giving Stitt enough time to drive down the lane for a floater and give Charleston an 11 point lead at halftime.
The second half was more of the same for Grant’s team. Sophomore forward Terrance O’Donohue, earning his first career start, stole the ball and pushed it ahead for an uncontested layup by Stitt to open the half.
Charleston used an 11-0 that featured scores by only Stitt and Baru to pull away from the Paladins.
The Cougars extended their lead to as many as 37 in the second half. Charleston tallied 20 assists in the game, a career-high tying seven from guard Joe Chealey.
“I give all the credit to my players. They had 20 assists and did a good job of sharing the basketball tonight. We had 14 assists in the last game against Emory and we talked about how important it was to share,” Grant said.
Stitt finished with a game-high 19 points. Baru tallied 16 points on 8-10 shooting and eight rebounds. Gilmore added 12 points in his Cougars debut. Charleston as a team shot 52 percent from the field and knocked down 11 three pointers.
“We really came out and executed our game plan. We have been working so hard this off-season and it was nice to finally go hard against someone else beside ourselves in practice. It is an extreme confidence booster heading into our home opener against Gardner-Webb,” Stitt said.
Charleston returns home for a matchup with Gardner-Webb on Monday at 7:30 p.m.