Friday, February 14, 2014
Willis Hall had to decide quickly as time melted off the game clock Thursday at TD Arena.
As his teammate lofted up a potential game-winner from the corner, he had to chose his position in case it missed, in case it ricocheted off the rim. He decided brilliantly.
The shot was blocked and deflected down the baseline. Hall reacted first and slid to corral the ball. His floater over two defenders was perfect, without hesitation, and gave the College of Charleston Cougars a 47-46 lead over Drexel with just 3.8 seconds to play.
“When it got tipped, I just ran to it,” Hall said. “I decided I was just going to get a shot up someway, somehow.”
It was a beautiful couple of seconds in a grind of a game riddled with poor shooting and tough, physical play. The Cougars (13-13, 5-6 CAA) shot 33 percent from the field against 32 percent shooting from Drexel. The two teams combined for 42 personal fouls and together shot just 51 percent from the free-throw line.
The Cougars held Drexel (13-11, 5-6) to its lowest-scoring game of the season. They outrebounded Drexel 46-38, including 34 defensive rebounds to Drexel’s nine offensive. Drexel guard Chris Fouch entered the night as the Colonial Athletic Association’s third-leading scorer at 19 points per game, but was limited to just six on 2-13 shooting.
“The positives are we are one hell of a defensive team and we rebound,” Cougars head coach Doug Wojcik said. “I think we’ve laid the foundation for an incredible toughness here as we move forward in this conference.”
Joe Chealey sank two free throws to cut the Drexel lead to one with 17 seconds to play in the game. The Cougars quickly fouled Frantz Massenat, a 70 percent free-throw shooter who was 6-9 on the night headed to the line. Facing the Cougars student section, Massenat missed both, Hall grabbed the rebound and the stage was set for the dramatic finish.
“The (Drexel) defense was scrambling and, at that point, I’m going to take a chance on my guys,” Wojcik said. “We weren’t sure where it was coming from but we put it on them to make a play, and they made a play.
“He’s (Hall) the only guy on the team that can make that shot, by the way. He may be the only player in the country who can make that shot.”
Fouch tried to answer for Drexel, covering the length of the court in the waning seconds, but Adjehi Baru tipped the layup attempt to preserve the win. Hall finished with nine points and 11 rebounds, scoring all nine in the final seven minutes. Canyon Barry added 10 points and Baru grabbed 13 rebounds. Massenat led all scorers with 16 for Drexel, Tavon Allen added 12.
“I have no apology for who we are,” Wojcik said. “I think people for right now, for this season, have to accept who we are. The positive is, if you can’t score it, you better be able to check, you better be able to rebound, and we do a hell of a job of that.”
The win moves the Cougars into a tie for fourth place with Drexel in the CAA standings, with Northeastern just a half-game back. The Cougars host Northeastern at TD Arena Saturday at 7 p.m.