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Clutch shots propel Charleston past ODU

The SportsXchange

NORFOLK, Va. -- For Charleston Cougars guards Anthony Stitt and Canyon Barry, it wasn't how many shots they made, it's when they made them.

On Wednesday, their timing was perfect.

Stitt and Barry each hit a big 3-pointer to quell the Old Dominion mini-runs late in the second half as the Cougars held off the Monarchs 51-44 at the Constant Convocation Center.

The Cougars guards ultimately came through on a night in which they combined to make just 3 of 17 shots. But Britt connected from deep with 3:14 left and the Monarchs trailing by just two at 39-37. And after the Monarchs got within three inside the final minute, Barry, the youngest son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry, nailed a 3-pointer with two seconds left on the shot clock to put Old Dominion down for good.

"Stitt was what, 2 for 11? But he hit that big shot at the end there," Monarchs guard Aaron Bacote said. "And Barry made just one shot all game (1 for 5). But I mean, those are daggers."

Barry, the team's leading scorer coming in at 11.4 points-per-game, finished with as many turnovers (3) as points.

"We brought him off the bench to try and relax him, and he hits the game-winning three, essentially," Cougars coach Doug Wojcik said.

Forward Willis Hall added a team-high 14 points and forward Anthony Thomas added 10 and had two key tip-in baskets to lead the Cougars (5-6) to their third victory in four games. The Monarchs, meanwhile, dropped their sixth straight after winning four of their first five. It was also Old Dominion's lowest point total of the season. The previous low was 48 in a 21-point loss at VCU on Dec. 8.

"Half the game is defense, so from that perspective, 50 percent of our effort tonight was fantastic," Wojcik said. "But obviously, both teams struggled to score."

Hall opened the second half with a four-point play to give the Cougars their largest lead at 27-18. Both teams traded missed shots and turnovers from there, but the Monarchs slowly chipped away at their deficit and got to within one at 33-32 on guard Dimitri Batten's 3-pointer. But the Monarchs killed their momentum by turning it over on their next two possessions, and the Cougars nudged back in front by six.

Bacote scored 13 points and Batten added 10 to lead the Monarchs, who shot just 31.4 percent from the field and missed nine of their 10 3-point attempts.

Charleston capitalized on a massive Old Dominion scoring drought to seize a 23-18 halftime lead.

A floater by guard Keenan Palmore with 14:05 left put Old Dominion ahead 10-2, but the Monarchs then went eight minutes without another field goal while the Cougars slowly pieced together a 14-2 run.

Thomas' layup with 8:33 left finally got Charleston even at 12, and two free throws by Hall produced the Cougars' first lead at 14-12.

The Monarchs' only points during Charleston's surge came on two free throws by Bacote. Old Dominion's field-goal drought didn't end until Batten made a layup with 4:58 left before halftime.

"You just get frustrated," Bacote said. "Time goes down and you're not scoring and the other team is scoring ... it's draining. But we had our chances."

Hall scored eight first-half points to lead the Cougars, who committed turnovers on four of their first six possessions and seven on their initial 14. However, Charleston had just one turnover over the final nine minutes of the half.

Bacote scored six first-half points to lead the Monarchs, who made just 7 of 23 field goal attempts and were 0-for-6 from 3-point range before the break.

NOTES: The Monarchs, who left the Colonial Athletic Association for Conference USA in July, are in the midst of stretch of eight straight games against past or present CAA teams. Charleston is in its first year in the Colonial. ... The Cougars defeated the Monarchs 76-65 in Charleston last season in the teams' only prior meeting. ... Old Dominion began play shooting 55.7 percent from the free-throw line, a figure that ranked 343rd out of 345 Division I schools. The Monarchs made 11 of 19 on Wednesday.
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