Monday, March 11, 2013
College of Charleston leaves SoCon with 74-55 loss
ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- The College of Charleston wasn't able to leave the Southern Conference the way it broke into it back in 1998-99.
In other words, no conference championship.
Instead, the Cougars' final game before moving on to the Colonial Athletic Association was a resounding 74-55 loss to Davidson on Monday night, keeping them from reaching the NCAA tournament for the 14th straight season.
The Cougars were never able to match that first year's success in the SoCon under former coach John Kresse.
They lost five times in the title game.
But first-year coach Doug Wojcik said despite the loss he believes his team is headed in the right direction after a 24-10 record as they set a new course for the future.
"We've got 24 Division I wins this year," Wojcik said. "I've got almost everyone back and tournament experience and all the things that go with it. We've come a long way. It's hard to believe it's only been 10 months, but to be playing for the championship tonight. We've made big strides and are looking forward."
Andrew Lawrence led College of Charleston with 19 points. Adjehi Baru added 11 points as the Cougars shot just 30 percent for the game.
"You play all year to get to this point," Lawrence said. "We were in a great position today, but we played a really great Davidson team tonight. We weren't able to get that win, but we're a big family. It's a really tough loss that I'll have to get over in time.
"Coach came in and made us family. We're as tight as we've ever been. We just got beat by a better team. We went out and tried to win every game every night when we stepped on the floor."
The Cougars simply couldn't stop Davidson junior forward De'Mon Brooks.
Brooks had 24 points and eight rebounds, and the Davidson Wildcats defended their championship with a wire-to-wire victory.
With two-time conference player of the year Jake Cohen in foul trouble most of the game, Brooks took over and turned in a dominating inside performance showing a variety of low post moves the Cougars simply couldn't defend and was selected the tournament MVP.
"Coaches told me that if I just take my time I'm one of the best big men in the country," Brooks said. "I think that's what I did today and just let the game come to me."
"This was the De'Mon of last year," Wildcats coach Bob McKillop said of Brooks, who was co-player of the year in the conference in 2011-12.
JP Kuhlman chipped in with 14 points and Nick Cochran had 10. Cohen had 12 points despite playing less than half of the game, but he was quick to pass the praise to Brooks.
"This game was all De'Mon," Cohen said. "He was outstanding. He was so dominant tonight. He was a huge part of winning us this title."
Unlike a year ago when Davidson blew a 13-point lead with 2:47 left in the title game and needed double overtime to defeat Western Carolina, they left no doubt in this one. Davidson outscored the Cougars 21-12 in the game's final 12 minutes.
"We didn't want to scare our fans like we did last year," Cohen said with a laugh.
Davidson (26-7) entered the game with the nation's third-longest winning streak at 16 games and wasted little time setting the tone. The Wildcats jumped out to a 10-3 lead behind the shooting of Kuhlman and the inside play of Brooks, who combined for 22 first-half points.
Davidson took a 35-26 lead into the locker room after shooting 47 percent and committing just one turnover. Meanwhile, the Wildcats' defense limited College of Charleston to 31 percent shooting in the first half.
Throughout the second half, Davidson fans chanted "you can't stop him" every time Brooks scored -- and they were right. He'd get the ball in the post and pivot until he created a short shot from in or around the paint.
The Cougars even tried doubling down on Brooks, but that didn't work either.
"We doubled down on him one time early and (Brooks) threw it opposite and they hit a three right at the beginning of the game," Wojcik said. "We had a lot of confidence in our guys and I didn't want to get beat at the 3-point line."