GAME NOTES: The College of Charleston Cougars continue their pursuit of the top spot in the Southern Conference standings as they venture to the Pete Hanna Center for a bout with the Samford Bulldogs.
The Cougars are 12-1 in their history against Samford, but the Bulldogs earned their first win in the series on Jan. 10 with a 62-57 decision in Charleston.
Charleston has been on a roll as of late. It notched its fourth win in a row on Saturday as it dominated UNG Greensboro, 81-59, at home to improve to 8-3 in the league standings. Coach Doug Wojcik's team also owns a 7-3 mark in true road games including a four-point upset at Baylor in late November. The Cougars are led by senior point guard Andrew Lawrence, who is pacing the team with 13.9 points, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per contest. Although Charleston is just seventh in the 12-team SoCon in scoring offense at 65.3 ppg, it is limiting its opposition to a conference-low 61.1 ppg.
Lawrence tallied 17 points and six assists to push the Cougars in their rout of the Spartans on Saturday. Trent Wiedeman came off the bench to record a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Willis Hall added 12 points and nine boards. Adjehi Baru and Anthony Stitt scored 10 points apiece as Charleston shot 42.1 percent from the field including a sizzling 10-of-21 clip from 3-point range. The strong defensive abilities were on display as well as UNCG went 18-of-55 (32.7 percent) from the field with seven assists to 13 turnovers.
The Bulldogs return home after falling to UNCG (66-64), Davidson (71-51), and Elon (77-66) during their recent three-game road swing, which followed a four- game winning streak. The trio of losses dropped Samford to a 7-15 overall record, but it still owns a respectable 5-4 mark in SoCon play. Freshman forward Tim Williams is a serious contender to win the conference's Newcomer of the Year award as he is averaging team-bests of 14.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. The rookie forward's efforts have not been enough to lift Samford any higher than 11th in the league in scoring offense (61.0 ppg).
Connor Miller poured in a team-high 21 points in the loss at Elon on Saturday while Tim Williams added 19 points and Clide Geffrard, Jr. registered a double-double of 17 points and 11 boards. Elon forced 17 turnovers which turned into 19 points, while turning it over only eight times itself. Samford lost despite converting 11-of-18 from 3-point range as it was outscored, 16-11, at the charity stripe.
The Bulldogs knocked down 8-of-16 from long distance in their win over Charleston on Jan. 10, while the Cougars went 3-of-16 from beyond the arc. The 3-point shooting for Charleston must improve in round two, but Lawrence and company will have plenty of motivation to guard the perimeter more efficiently after being torched from there in this season's first encounter.
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