CofC Upset Kent State 84-78, Earn 2nd Straight Win

Five Cougars in Double Figures, Charleston Improve to 3-3

Jeff Walker, Sports

Coming off an 80-72 win over Coastal Carolina in the Myrtle Beach Invitational the College of Charleston men's basketball team went into Kent State hoping to extend their win streak to two games. At 4-2 overall and 2-1 at home the Golden Flashes proved a formidable opponent, having scored 100 points or more on a couple of occasions this season.

Trailing 41-35 at the break the Cougars managed to find some offense in the locker room going up by as many as 11 points on two occasions, before Kent State made a game of it, regaining the lead 73-71 with less than four minutes to play. However, Charleston did what Coach Pat Kelsey has been preaching over the past few weeks, and that was they closed out the game using stringent defense, clutch shots, and  free throws as they downed their host 84-78.

Coach Kelsey expected a tough matchup but was happy to come away with a victory. "It was a really really good win. Kent State is a really good team, and it's an extremely tough place to play. They have an incredible home winning percentage."

Reyne Smith lead five players in double figures for Charleston. Smith drained 5 of 8 from long range to finish for 21 points. Frankie Policelli followed up his strong outing against Coastal Carolina knocking down 4 of 7 from 3-point land for 16 points. Bryce Butler turned in a solid performance adding 12 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Ben Burnham and Jordan Crawford chipped in 11 and 10 points respectively as the Cougars improve to 3-3 overall.

CofC would hold the lead for several minutes in the opening period. The home team however went up by as many as eight points late in the first half. A steal by Burnhan leading to a dunk would have Charleston trailing 34-28 with 2:47 remaining before intermission. Both teams would trade baskets with Kent State taking the same six point margin into the locker room.

A 17-0 run at the beginning of the second half including three straight triples erased a six point deficit as the Cougars jumped out to a 52-41 advantage before Kent State made their first field goal in the period. The Golden Flashes would have a quick surge, cutting the margin to 54-52 on a layup by Jalen Sullinger.

An old fashioned three point play by Crawford followed by another layup put CofC up 63-54 midway through the period. Sullinger drained an NBA style 3-pointer cutting the Cougar lead to 68-66 with under seven minutes remaining in regulation. CofC followed with a triple by Benny Buckets for a five point advantage. Seven unanswered by Kent State put the Golden Flashes back on top.

A couple of free throws by Smith tied the contest. A long ball by Policelli had CofC up 78-75. When Policelli made good on two from the line Charleston held a five point lead with a minute and a half on the clock. Sullinger would connect from the line to cut it to 80-78 with 54 seconds. A layup and two from the line from Butler sealed the deal for the visitors, as Kent State finished with several mis-fires from long range.

Sullinger lead the Golden Eagles with a game best 23 points, adding three triples, a solid 8 of 8 from the line, and seven boards. VonCameron Davis came in off the bench to add 19 points, shooting an impressive 9 of 12 from the field. With the loss Kent State fall to 4-3 on the season.

Coach Kelsey gave credit all around. "Kent State, they were the more aggressive team in the first half." He admits the team made some adjustments in the second half. "We talked about that in the locker room and we came out as the aggressor. James Scott was huge (six rebounds). Bryce Butler made some big rebounds. Overall it was a team win."

Kelsey sees marked improvement from his players over the past couple of games. "The scoreboard might not show it, but all I've seen is growth. The guys have stayed consistent and it shows. It's great to see the fruits of their labor."

The College of Charleston travel to Boca Raton, Florida for a two game series in the Field of 68 Tip Off. They play Liberty on Friday for a 6pm contest, and again at 6pm on Saturday as they go up againts 19th ranked Florida Atlantic. Saturday's game is broadcast on ESPN-U.