By Jon Cooper
The inaugural Charleston Classic—which featured Clemson, College of Charleston, ETSU, Hofstra, SIUE, TCU, Temple and Western Michigan—didn’t act anything like a new … tournament on the block. Clemson outlasted Temple in the thrilling finale, one of 12 spirited games in this 3-day, 8-team tournament. Here’s how everyone did:
College of Charleston broke in its new home with a hard-fought 72-66 victory over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in the battle of the Cougars. All-Tournament guard Andrew Goudelock scored 17 points, while senior forward Jermaine Johnson added 16 and seven boards. In its next game, Charleston cut a 13-point Temple lead to three but eventually fell, 70-65. Marcus Hammond came off the bench to score a team-high 15 on a career-best five three’s for the Cougars, who were outscored 17-3 from the foul line. The Classic ended on a positive note as the Cougs beat TCU in its final game, 86-76 to secure a solid third place finish. Goudelock scored a team-high 20.
The Tigers jumped out to a 15-3 lead and cruised past Hofstra, 98-69, in its Charleston Classic-opener. Tournament MVP Trevor Booker had 16 points and 13 boards, both game-highs. In the next game against TCU, David Potter’s three-pointer with one second remaining in the half gave the Tigers a 29-27 halftime lead and they pulled away in the second half, winning, 70-58. Senior guard K.C. Rivers had a team-high 18. In a thrilling championship, Clemson let a 14-point second-half lead dwindle to two but held off Temple, 76-72 to secure tournament bragging rights. Terrence Oglesby led Clemson with 16 (4-for-8 from three), while Booker added 15 and 16 boards.
Guard Mike Smith had a double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Preseason Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Courtney Pilgrim added 18, but the Buccaneers dropped their season-opening game to Temple, 79-65. Things went better in their second game, as senior forward Kevin Tiggs scored a game-high 19, the last three in the final 40 seconds of the 65-62 victory over SIU-Edwardsville. ETSU, which finished sixth in Charleston, fell prey to last-second heroics in their final game, a 76-75 loss to Hofstra. Pride guard Charles Jenkins hit a game-winning free throw with 1.1 seconds left. Smith (20), Pilgrim (19) and Tiggs (18) combined for 57 of ETSU’s 75 points.
Hofstra scored first in its season-opening 98-69 loss to Clemson but soon was down 15-3 and never solved the Tigers’ pressing defense. Last year’s Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year, guard Charles Jenkins, scored a game-high 21. The Pride shot only 4-for-27 in the first half of its next game, against Western Michigan, but Jenkins, who had a team-high 19, scored seven in OT to lift the Pride over the Broncos, 71-68, in their second round game. In Hofstra’s final game, a 76-75 victory over East Tennessee State, Jenkins scored Hofstra’s final eight points (31 overall), including the game-winning free throw with 1.1 seconds remaining, to wrap up fourth place.
The defending Atlantic 10 Tournament champions used a smaller, quicker lineup to race past East Tennessee State, 79-65. All-Tournament guard Dionte Christmas, the two-time A-10 scoring champion, went off for 26 points, 11 boards and six assists. In their next game, Christmas led five Owls in double figures, again scoring a game-high 26, as Temple beat College of Charleston, 70-65. In a tight finale, Temple dropped a 76-72 decision to Clemson despite Ryan Brooks’ game-high 19, to finish second in the tournament. Christmas scored all 14 of his points in the second half and Temple had two chances to tie the game late but couldn’t convert.
TCU won its eighth season-opener in nine years, topping Western Michigan, 67-63. The Horned Frogs finished the game on a 17-9 run, and Kevin Langford’s three-pointer with 2:17 left gave TCU the lead for good. Edvinas Ruzgas led TCU with 16 points. In its next game, TCU trailed Clemson only 29-27 at halftime but then went cold, and the Tigers pulled away to win, 70-58. Ruzgas led TCU with 19 points. In their final game, the Frogs fell behind College of Charleston 49-30 at intermission. A 12-0 run helped cut the lead to five, but Charleston sealed the game at the foul line, dropping TCU to a fifth place finish. Langford led TCU with a game-high 27.
The Ohio Valley Conference’s newest member nearly won its Division-I debut against host College of Charleston, leading with 3:50 left, but they were sunk by a late 8-1 run and lost, 72-66. Freshman forward Mark Yelovich led the Cougars with 21 points. SIUE came close again against East Tennessee State but fell, 65-62. Yelovich had a team-high 15 for the Cougars, who saw Aaron Garriott’s potential game-tying three-pointer rim out at the final buzzer. The Cougars earned their first Division I victory, 83-72 over Western Michigan, in their final game, and finish seventh. Aamir McCleary's 21 led five double-figure scorers, and SIUE never trailed after an early 14-0 run
Western Michigan fell to TCU in the initial game of the inaugural Charleston Classic, 67-63. All-Tournament guard David Kool had a game-high 24 points for WMU, which led 30-27 at the half but allowed TCU a decisive, game-ending 17-9 run. The Broncos fell in overtime in their next game, against Hofstra, 71-68, despite another game-high 24 from Kool. In their final game, Kool was again the game-high scorer (with 27) but WMU became the tourney’s only winless team with an 83-72 loss to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. The Broncos cut a 14-point first-half deficit to four, but got no closer.
University of Maryland alum Jon Cooper is an Atlanta-based freelance writer.