In November 2008, my friend Tony Terentieff and I took a trip down to Charleston to see Hofstra play in the inaugural Charleston Classic. I quickly fell in love with a city full of history, culture, character, wonderful southern architecture and of course, terrific food. It was truly one of the best vacations in my life.
When I accepted a position at the University of South Carolina School of Law in August 2012, one of the things I quickly looked forward to was being able to go every so often to Charleston. Last basketball season, I was able to see Towson play College of Charleston, but due to time constraints, I didn't have much of a chance to enjoy one of my favorite cities.
When my friend, Tony Bozzella, became head coach of the Seton Hall women's basketball team, he let us know that they were playing at South Carolina on Sunday, November 17. It also happens to be the weekend of South Carolina hosting Florida in football. So, a group of us put plans in motion for a weekend of sports, circled around seeing our good friend, Coach Bozzella. It was also a reunion of my Hofstra basketball trio as I would get to see Tieff and Mal.
The original plan for the sports weekend was for Mal and Tieff to fly down on Friday morning and I would show them around Columbia. But it just so happened that the College of Charleston was hosting UNC Asheville last night. So I had a better plan; a night of hoops in "The Holy City".
I parked in the same garage by the downtown Hampton Inn that we used for my family trip in late summer and made our way through the streets of Charleston. After a quick dinner at a local establishment, we headed out to what my Google Maps thought where the arena was located. We quickly realized that it was not the right direction, so thanks to a couple of helpful, female College of Charleston students, which once again proved that Charleston is "the most polite and hospitable city in America", we got to TD Arena fifteen minutes before game time.
It was a good crowd for a drizzly Friday night. Tieff was hoping that there was no rain this time, unlike 2008. During the first day of action in the brand new arena, it was raining in Charleston. And the TD Arena roof had its first leak. It just so happened the leak was right above where Tieff was sitting and sure enough, TD Arena, sort of speak, christened Tieff.
Early in this college basketball season, so much has been made of the impact of freshmen like Duke's Jabari Parker, Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Kentucky's Julius Randle. But its not just the big name schools that have impact freshman. UNC Asheville and College of Charleston each have a freshman leading their team in scoring. The Bulldogs have guard Andrew Rowsey, who came into the game averaging 18 points per game. The Cougars have Rick Barry's son, Canyon Barry. Canyon put up 36 points in a win over Charlotte.
Meanwhile, outside of Barry, the Cougars struggled on offense. They only shot 8 of 29 from the field in the first half and if they weren't missing a shot, Cunningham or the Bulldogs' Jaleel Roberts were blocking them. Cunningham had six blocks in the game and Roberts added three of his own. UNC Asheville went into the locker room up 31-21 at half.
Through the first three minutes of the second half, UNC Asheville maintained a double digit lead, 37-26. Then a Barry three pointer ignited a 16-2 run, capped on layup by Joe Chealey, another talented Cougars' freshman. College of Charleston had its first lead, 42-39, since ninety seconds into the start of the game.
It was then that Bulldogs' senior Jaron Lane offensively got on track. Lane, a redshirt senior due to an ankle injury last season and who averaged 11.5 points per game in 2011-12, had a horrible first half as he went 0 for 6 from the field, missing badly on all of his three point attempts. In fact, Lane had missed on his first seven three pointers of the season. But over the span of nearly six minutes, Lane accounted for nine of the next eleven points UNC Asheville scored, including a three pointer that put the Bulldogs up 54-49 with 3:20 left in the game.
As a result, UNC Asheville would not score another point the rest of the second half. However, the College of Charleston barely took advantage. First, Anthony Thomas hit a jumper to cut the lead to three, 54-51. After missing on two consecutive possessions, the third time was the charge as Chealey setup Willis Hall nicely for a game tying three pointer with thirty five seconds left in the game. The Bulldogs failed to score on their last possession and the game went into overtime tied at fifty four.
As was the case for most of the game, the Cougars were ice cold from the floor down the stretch and Chealey and Thomas both missed easy layups that could have cut the deficit to two points. From there, the Bulldogs iced the game hitting seven of eight free throws. Meanwhile, Chealey had the last two points for the Cougars, but missed on two shots to end the game. The Bulldogs got their first win of the season, a hard fought 67-58 overtime win.
The Cougars had eighteen more field goal attempts than the Bulldogs, due to only six turnovers and forcing fourteen Bulldogs' turnovers. Yet Charleston hit two less shots than UNC Asheville (22 to 24). The Cougars were also a frigid five of twenty seven from beyond the arc. Barry led Charleston with eighteen points, but he was only five of seventeen from the field, including two of nine from beyond the arc. Baru had his double double and Chealey added ten points.