Gardner-Webb (17-11) at College of Charleston (20-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: TD Arena (5,100) -- Charleston, South Carolina. Television: None. Home Record: Gardner-Webb 10-2, CofC 10-5. Away Record: Gardner-Webb 5-9, CofC 10-3. Neutral Record: Gardner-Webb 2-0, CofC 0-0. Conference Record: Gardner-Webb 9-5, CofC 12-4. Series Record: Tied, 1-1.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams near the top of their respective conferences will battle on Saturday when the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs square off with the College of Charleston Cougars at TD Arena in a BracketBuster matchup.
Gardner-Webb rolls into this contest riding a four-game winning streak after a 65-62 victory over Winthrop on Tuesday. The Bulldogs are now 17-11 overall, while sitting in third place in the Big South standings with a record of 9-5 against league foes. There are just two home games left on the schedule for the Bulldogs who host Charleston Southern next.
Momentum is also on the side of Charleston, which has won eight of its last nine meetings. The Cougars' most recent victory pushed it to 20 wins overall this season making it one of two SoCon squads, along with Davidson, to reach that many victories. The Cougars are third in the SoCon at 12-4 versus league foes. There are also two games left on the schedule for the Cougars who host Wofford in their next outing.
These teams have split the two previous matchups between them. Charleston took the most recent meeting with an 81-63 triumph during the 2000-01 season.
By consistently getting to the free-throw line, Gardner-Webb was able to get past Winthrop. The Bulldogs had just 16 total field goals in the contest but outscored the Eagles, 28-11 from the charity stripe, while owning a 37-23 edge in rebounds.
Defense is the key for the Bulldogs, who are giving up just 60.9 points per game, holding teams to just 42.7 percent shooting. That has helped them overcome their rather meager offensive numbers. Gardner-Webb is putting in just 65.8 points per game while netting 42 percent from the field, both of which are the third worst marks in the league. Tashan Newsome (14.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) has been the most productive offensive weapon, though he has stumbled in recent weeks averaging just 6.7 points per game, while shooting just 21.2 percent from the field.
Andrew Lawrence's free throws with one second remaining lifted CofC to a 67-65 triumph over Western Carolina. The Cougars surrendered a 12-point lead with a little more than three minutes left in the contest but were saved on Lawrence's free throws. Charleston held WCU to just 36.6 percent shooting in the game.
Lawrence (13.2 ppg, 3.8 apg) has been carrying the Cougars all season as the leading scorer among three in double figures. The 6-foot-1 guard has seen a nearly four minute drop in his average playing time from a year ago but has still managed to keep his point production up. Also averaging in double figures for the Cougars are Anthony Stitt (10.9 ppg) and Adjehi Baru (10.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg), with Baru's work on the glass placing him at the top of the SoCon in rebounds.
On the road Gardner-Webb will struggle to replicate the defensive pressure it has been able to create this season. Expect Lawrence and company to propel the Cougars to victory yet again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: College of Charleston 67, Gardner-Webb 61
02/23 10:45:01 ET