Cougars rout Georgia Southern
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP)—Jermaine Johnson had 16 of his 18 points in the second half to lead the College of Charleston back to the Southern Conference tournament semifinals in a 87-73 victory over Georgia Southern on Saturday night.
The sixth-seeded Cougars’ win guarantees a surprise finalist. Earlier, seventh-seeded Elon upset second-seeded Chattanooga 60-57.
For a game, Charleston shook off its disappointing season and looked like the power team it had been for much of its previous nine Southern Conference seasons.
Charleston’s fourth straight victory pushed them to the .500 mark at 16-16 for the first time since they were 4-4 in December.
The Cougars closed the opening half with a 19-3 run and led by 27 points, 63-36, with 13:14 to play.
That’s when Georgia Southern (20-12) made a run, closing the lead to a 11, 77-66, on Louis Graham’s foul shot.
But the Eagles could get no closer and missed out on the league semis for the fourth straight season.
Tony White Jr. led the Cougars with 19 points. Dustin Scott had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Matthew Fields had 18 points for Georgia Southern.
A year ago, Charleston made it to the Southern Conference finals in coach Bobby Cremins’ first year.
But season two was a struggle for the Cougars. They had their first losing regular season, 9-11, in a decade of Southern Conference play.
Charleston lost eight of 11 games during one stretch and had seemingly lost the dominance it carried since joining the league before the 1998-99 season.
The team steadied itself right before the tournament, winning its final two games including a 91-86 victory over Georgia Southern.
This time, the Cougars used a 19-3 run to close the first half for a 44-26 lead.
White got things going, hitting two of three foul shots, then draining a 3-pointer. Scott and Donavan Monroe also added 3s during the run.