CofC Get By Liberty 76-67, Win Third Straight

Burnham Lead Cougs with 18 Pts.  Charleston Improve to 4-3, Take on 13th Ranked FAU Saturday

Jeff Walker, Sports

The College of Charleston men's basketball team pick up their third win in a row as they down Liberty University 76-67 in the opening game of the Field of 68 Media Network Tip-Off Event in Boca Raton. Just a solid night of hoops as 10 CofC players score, with the Cougars outscoring the Flames 35-11 off the bench.

Playing just 19 minutes overall, Ben 'Benny Buckets' Burnham lead Charleston with a game tying 18 points, going 8 of 11 from the floor including 2 of 4 from long range. CofC radio play by play announcer Everett German equated Burnham's stellar play to that of Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, adding that both players perform better when their moms are in the crowd.

Freshman guard Jordan Crawford continues his strong play with back to back games in double figures, finishing with 11 points off 3 of 4 from the field with two from beyond the arc. Improving to 4-3 on the season Burnham sees marked improvement over the last several contests. "I think we are finally clicking now. It's what we've wanted to do from the start."

With Burnham stepping up recently he feels as though he taken on a leadership role guiding players such as Crawford. "I have to get out of my comfort zone and help the younger guys. I'm proud of Craw. That's what I call him."

CofC controlled the tempo of the game including a slam dunk by James Scott on the first play of the contest. The Cougars lead throughout and held mostly a two possesion lead for most of the first half. A jumper by Khalil London put CofC up by eight with 7:59 remaining. Less than four minutes later Burnham extended the Cougar lead to 10 (35-25) before the Flames put together an 8-2 run to trail 37-33 at the break.

Three minutes into the second period a long range missile by Crawford put CofC up again by 10 (47-37). However, the Flames wouldn't go down quietly cutting the margin to one point (49-48) on a layup by Zach Cleveland. Midway thru the second half Reyne Smith's lone 3-pointer made it 60-50 as the Cougars were on a roll, extending their advantage to 17 on Burnham's final triple of the night.

Liberty had a few spurts but couldn't cut the margin any closer than seven points as Charleston was too clutch down the stretch. Although CofC made 8 of 23 from beyond the arc, they relied on defense and points in the paint (36) to maintain the lead throughout.

Cougar Head Coach Pat Kelsey said his players have come into their own lately. "We really played well tonight. Even the couple of games before the last three wins when shots weren't falling our guys still competed." He added, "Our guys are resilient. They are a tight knit group."

Kelsey and Charleston are known for having a strong bench with nearly half of their points (35) coming off the bench. That is something Kelsey if proud of. "That's what we do. We like to play a lot of guys, bring fresh guys into the game." As far as Burnham's play. "He's a phenomenal player."

Liberty had two players in double figures with Kyle Rode knocking down five from beyond the arc to end up with a team best and game tying 18 points. Kaden Metheny added 16 points with Joseph Venzant hauling in a game high 11 rebounds. The Flames fall to 6-2 on the season.

Charleston will need all they can muster and more when they go up against 13th ranked Florida Atlantic on Saturday night. At 6-1 the Owls have already beaten #12 Texas A&M and Virginia Tech this season, and are coming off an 83-58 win over Liberty on Thursday.

Coach Kelsey says they will have to bring more than their A-game Saturday night. "They (FAU) have 14 of 15 players back. They are a premier team. They have great cohesiveness. They shoot well from the two and the three. We have to be locked in." CofC vs. FAU tips off at 6pm and will be televised on ESPNU.