The College of Charleston’s men’s basketball team took the floor Tuesday night against No. 5 Louisville before a sold-out TD Arena with hopes of pulling off an historic upset. Instead, the Cougars were handed one of their worst losses in recent memory, turning the ball over 27 times in an 80-38 trouncing.
“They are really good,” head coach Doug Wojcik said after the game. “You can’t win a game with 27 turnovers, and 18 steals for them. We tried to simulate their pressure in practice yesterday. Their length and strength is pretty impressive. They chose to play zone like St. John’s. Both teams are impressive physically. It was a tough night for us. We never put them on their heels.”
From the opening tip, it was evident the Cougars were going to struggle to get to the basket against Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s full-court press. After falling behind 6-0 early because of the turnovers and missed shots that painfully characterized the Cougars night, Andrew Lawrence was able to penetrate to the basket for a bucket and a foul. After converting the three-point play just minutes into the game to pull the Cougars back within three points, it would be the last time the Cougars’ top point guard registered a point, and the closest they ever came to threatening the Cardinals’ lead.
By the end of the first half, the Cougars had sixteen turnovers, identical to the amount of points they were able to put up, as they trailed 36-16.
The Cougars began the second half with a 10-4 run, trying to claw back into the game, but the Cardinals’ defense and potent offense, which had four players finish with double figures including Wayne Blackshear’s 18, proved insurmountable.
Not to be overlooked in an otherwise forgettable night for the Cougars was the play of Adjehi Baru, as he earned his second career double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
“It doesn’t really matter how many points or how many rebounds I had, because I’m just playing this game to win,” said Baru. “So tonight, I felt a little bit down, really down for how we just played. I’m just trying to make our fans enjoy the game, so I’m sorry about that. We just want to bounce back. We can’t have our heads down. We just have to work hard for the next game.”
The Cougars (5-3, 1-0 SoCon) will have an opportunity to distance this loss from memory when they return to action Thursday, Dec. 13, against Anderson University. Tipoff is schedule for 7 p.m. at TD Arena.