By Charley Green
The second annual Charleston Classic—which featured four teams that participated in the 2008-09 NIT (Penn State, Davidson, Miami and South Carolina)—was held at the brand-new TD Arena at the College of Charleston. Each team played three games, but it was Miami coming away with ultimate bragging rights. Here’s how everybody did.
Davidson suffered three losses in the Charleston Classic, the last being a 59-57 decision to Penn State after Brendan McKillop’s jumper bounced off the rim with the clock running out. The Wildcats nearly erased an early 19-point deficit in the game. Davidson lost its second game to La Salle, 84-70, when they fell behind early and trailed by 16 at the half. The Wildcats opened the tournament with a 65-58 setback to USF in which they shot just 30.8 percent from the field.
La Salle capped a 2-1 showing in Charleston by holding off Tulane, 61-59, with Rodney Green hitting four free throws in the final 48 seconds to preserve the lead. Neither team led by more than six points in the game. The Explorers also defeated Davidson, 84-70, behind a 21-point, 10-rebound effort from Green, who made the all-tournament team. La Salle began the Charleston Classic with a 78-68 loss to South Carolina. Green tallied 23 points in that contest.
Miami won the Charleston Classic with an emphatic 85-70 victory over South Carolina in the championship game. Tournament MVP Dwayne Collins scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for his third double-double of the event. The Hurricanes held on for a 67-60 triumph over UNC Wilmington in their second game, as Malcolm Grant scored a team-high 18 points. Miami overpowered Tulane, 74-54, in the opening game of the tournament, with Collins posting 23 points and 14 rebounds.
UNC Wilmington started the Charleston Classic by beating Penn State before losing a pair of single-digit decisions, the last of which was a 74-66 setback to USF. All-tournament performer Chad Tomko tied for the team lead with 17 points in that game, and also led the Seahawks with 16 points in a 67-60 loss to eventual champion Miami. UNCW led by 12 in the first half against the Hurricanes. In the 80-69 win over Penn State, the team hit 10 of 16 three-pointers, and Tomko poured in 21 points.
Penn State held off a Davidson comeback in its final game, escaping with a 59-57 victory behind 12 points from Jeff Brooks. The Nittany Lions had lost their previous game to Tulane, 63-60, allowing the winning three-pointer with 19 seconds left. Penn State hit 22 of 25 free throws in that contest to almost overcome 30.9 percent shooting from the floor. Talor Battle scored a tournament-best 29 points in the Lions’ first game, an 80-69 loss to UNCW.
South Carolina advanced to the Charleston Classic championship game, where the Gamecocks fell to Miami, 85-70. Guard Devan Downey posted 20 points and six assists in the absence of Dominique Archie, who injured his ankle on a dunk early in the game. Downey also scored a team-high 17 points in a 69-66 win over USF, which vaulted South Carolina into the title game. Archie got the tournament started with 17 points and seven rebounds in a 78-68 win over La Salle in the first round.
USF emerged from Charleston with two wins in three games, the last being a 74-66 triumph over UNCW behind Dominique Jones’ 28 points. Jones also added six steals and three assists. The Bulls’ lone loss was in round two to South Carolina by a 69-66 score. Augustus Gilchrist led the team with 19 points in that game, which USF led by as many as 10 in the first half. The Bulls began the weekend by beating Davidson, 65-58, with Gilchrist scoring 19 of his 21 points in the second half.
Tulane missed a three-pointer at the buzzer in a 61-59 setback to La Salle to finish the Charleston Classic. Kris Richard scored a game-high 17 points but the Green Wave shot just 40 percent from the field. Tulane did pick up a 63-60 win in round two over Penn State. Kevin Sims hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 19 seconds left to provide the winning margin. The Green Wave’s opening game was a 74-54 loss to eventual champion Miami, in which they also were held to 40 percent shooting. Richard led the team with 14 points in defeat.
Charley Green has served as media coordinator for the Charleston Classic for two years.