Policelli Makes Six 3-Pointers To Lead All Scorers With 22 Pts. Cougs Win Third Straight
Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Three players ended up in double figures for the College of Charleston, as the men's basketball team extended their win streak to three games downing visiting Drexel University 80-70 before 4750 fans at TD Arena. With a much needed victory CofC improve to 18-7 overall and 9-3 in the CAA, grabbing hold of first place in the league.
Frankie Policelli lead the Cougars with a game high 22 points, adding an impressive 6 of 10 from beyond the arc. Ante Brzovic who had a hard time finding the basket in the first half, came alive after the break to finish with 19 points, going 8 of 14 for the game. With family visiting from Ireland, CJ Fulton was fired up making good on 3 of 4 from long range (5 of 8 overall) to chip in 13 points. He doled out three assists as well.
Policelli's offense was a complete turn around from his last game, where he delighted more on defense, hauling in 16 rebounds against NC A&T. He admits he just welcomes contributing anyway he can. "The team has found me good in those spots (open threes). We did a good job moving the ball. I was able to get comfortable in the offense."
While his scoring has fluctuated throughout the season, Policelli takes it in stride. "I just trust the process. This is hard, ups & downs. I have to stay true and understand that I'm capable of it." In his first season with CofC, the transfer student admits the crowd helps get the Cougars across the line. "To be honest it's electric."
CofC got off to a slow start, trailing 15-6 after six minutes of play, with the lone offense coming off two 3-point shots from Policelli. When he connected on back to back triples with 7:37 remaining in the half, Charleston enjoyed their first lead of the contest.
Try as the will to build on the lead, the Dragons but together 11 unanswered to go up by eight. The Cougars would would rally closing out the last three minutes on an 11-3 run, including a buzzer beating missile from Policelli to head into the locker tied at 35 apiece.
A couple of failed attempts by both teams kick started the second half, before Reyne Smith got into the scoring column for Charleston. The Cougars would maintain a one or two possession lead over the next six minutes before five straight from Brzovic including three the hard way (shot & FT) put the home team up 54-44 with 12:22 showing on the clock. Drexel had no quit in them, cutting the margin to four after scoring six unanswered.
Offensive spurts would go back and forth as Charleston went on an 8-0 run to take a 62-50 just past the midway mark. The best the Dragons could do was get within five (71-66) on a layup by Yame Butler.
Another rally, and Charleston would extend their advantage to 12 (78-66) capped off by a dunk from James Scott. Smith aka 'Mr. Dependable' at the free throw line would add a pair with 22 seconds remaining to secure a victory for the home team.
Drexel was lead in scoring by Amari Williams who is a beast under the basket, going 9 of 18 to end up with 20 points, doing most of his damage in the first 20 minutes of play. Luke House went 2 of 4 from long range for 12 points. Drexel fall a game back of CofC at 8-4 in the CAA and 15-10 overall.
CofC head ball coach Pat Kelsey admitted his players stepped up even when they were down initially. "I was most proud of our guys response to the early adversity. I felt the first eight minutes of the game they (Drexel) dominated. I felt there wasn't a lot of resistance from us on a defensive standpoint."
Coach added the game took a turn. "And then something changed. Right about the 12 minute or 10 minute mark we defended like a championships team. We really ramped it up and changed the complexion of the game."
The final stats appeared to favor the visiting team. Charleston was outrebounded 40-36 with Drexel's Williams grabbing a game best eight boards. The Dragons won the points in the paint contest 48-28 and a 26-17 advantage off the bench. Thankfully CofC made 13 threes compared to just five for Drexel.
Although some of CofC's regular scorers didn't light up the scoreboard, Kelsey says they made an impact. "We got great leadership tonight. Bryce Butler, maybe his stat line wasn't great but he made a major impact on the game. Same with CJ, Kobe (Rodgers), Reyne, Benny (Burnham), and Ante. I thought those guys showed great leadership. And the energy in the arena was phenomenal, including the energy on the bench."
Charleston, now 18-7 and 9-3 in conference play, will travel to Northeastern on February 15. Action is set for 7:00 p.m. in Boston.