CofC Return To Winning Ways, Down Rhode Island 85-70

Cougars Notch 48 in Second Half, Ben Burnham Racks Up 23 Points To Lead All Scorers

Jeff Walker, Sports

After more than a month away from home the College of Charleston men's basketball team returned to TD Arena Sunday afternoon as they welcomed Rhode Island to Charleston. Coming off a loss to 11th ranked Florida Atlantic the Cougars entered the contest at 4-4 on the season, and eager for a win.

Rhode Island's 900 mile road trip south didn't prove favorable as they fell flat in the second half, falling to CofC 85-70. Charleston apparently could do no wrong in the final 20 minutes of play, racking up 48 second half points, as they improve to 5-4 overall and 2-0 at TD Arena. Rhode Island fall to 5-5 on the season.

After being on the road for an extended period CofC Head Coach Pat Kelsey was happy to be in familiar surroundings. "It's great be back at home. It's been five weeks tomorrow (Monday). This place (TD Arena) has such great energy."

Ben 'Benny Buckets' Burnham lead all scorers finishing with a game best 23 points. Burnham was on his game the entire afternoon hitting 9 of 11 from the floor including one from long range. He hauled in a team best five rebounds.

Charleston got 39 points from the bench with three players scoring in double figures. Reyne Smith went 4 of 6 from beyond the arc for 12 points. Jordan Crawford went 3 of 3 from downtown for 11 points, with Bryce Butler going 5 of 7 from the field for 10 points.

CofC controlled the tip but Rhode Island tripped the scoreboard first as Always Right drained a 3-pointer from the corner  on the Rams first possession. When Burnham made an old fashioned three the Cougars trailed 8-7 after three minutes of play.

Rhode Island would enjoy a couple of six point advantages but it was pretty much a one possession game for most of the first half, until four straight points by Benny Buckets gave Charleston their biggest lead (33-28) during the opening period. The home team would take a narrow 37-34 lead at the break.

CofC came out of the locker room on fire, going up 47-40 after four minutes of action. A couple minutes later a layup followed by short jumper by James Scott gave the home a double digit advantage (53-43). A 10-0 run by the Cougars had them by 12 as fans were beginning to sense Charleston was about to open the contest up.

When Scott hit another jumper with five minutes showing on the clock CofC went up by 20. Burnham's final points of the contest with 1:32 remaining gave the home team their biggest lead (85-63). Charleston cleared the bench as Rhode Island scored the final seven points of the game.

The final stats proved the difference. Charleston outpaced their opponents 39-27 off the bench, and 17-6 in second chance points, with most of that coming in the final 20 minutes of play. Coach Kelsey made mention of the uptick after intermission. "Our guys just stepped in the second half. We had one offensive rebound in the first half, and we grab 11 for the game." He added, "I love where our team in trending right now."

Rhode Island had two players in double figures with Jaden House and Cam Estevez leading the Ram charge with 12 and 13 points respectively. Three other players finished with nine apiece. Two areas that hurt the Rams were turning the ball over 17 times and losing the battle on the glass (39-31).

Next up for the Cougars is a long awaited matchup against the Citadel Bulldogs, part of a five game homestand. Tip-off is set for Thursday 7:00 p.m. in TD Arena.

Coach Kelsey admits has been anticipating this since he took the coaching position at Charleston. "When I first came here I said 'why aren't we playing the Citadel'. That had always been a great cross-town rivalry. I'm glad we put this back on the schedule for the city of Charleston."