GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP)Dalton Bolon tallied his first career double-double with 22 points and 10 boards as No. 23 College of Charleston won its 14th straight game, notching a 92-79 victory over North Carolina A&T.
Charleston (15-1, 3-0 CAA) is off to its best single-season start since joining the Division I ranks in 1991.
Bolon – who was one of five Charleston players to score in double digits – made 10-of-16 shots for the Cougars and also dished out two assists. Ante Brzovic and Pat Robinson III each scored 12 points, while Raekwon Horton and Ben Burnham both had 11.
”Winning on the road is hard, and winning Division I games is hard,” Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said. ”There were stretches in the game where we looked like a special team. I told those guys that I’m proud of them. We were stringing stops together and playing very efficiently offensively.”
Kam Woods scored a career-high 30 points to lead N.C. A&T (6-10, 1-2). Duncan Powell added 20 points for the Aggies, while Marcus Watson had 12 points and 12 boards.
N.C. A&T jumped out to a five-point lead early, but Charleston roared back to tie the game, and then used a 26-6 run to take a 22-point advantage into halftime. Ryan Larson and Bolon each scored eight points during that stretch.
Charleston went on to lead by as many as 30 points in the second half, pushing its advantage with a 12-5 run. Five different Cougars scored in that span.
The Cougars turned 12 turnovers by the Aggies into 14 points, and Charleston also grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and flipped them into 19 second-chance points. Charleston entered the game ranking 19th nationally in offensive rebounding, grabbing 13.4 per game.
”They got out in transition and opened that thing up. They’re a high scoring team and it doesn’t take long,” Aggies interim coach Phillip Shumpert said. ”We got to protect the paint and not give up so many offensive rebounds. . Scoring ain’t the problem. Stopping somebody is what we need to get fixed.”
RANKING BRINGS A TARGET
Charleston is in the AP Top 25 Poll for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Stacking up victories in the CAA should help Charleston solidify its place in the rankings and bolster its resume for the postseason.
But Kelsey knows the Cougars will have a target on their back now in conference play.
”Most gyms we’re going to go into now, it’s going to be circled on the marketing calendar,” Kelsey said. ”I’ve coached on ranked teams and it’s just a truth in college basketball: You go on the road and (if) you’re not your best when you’re ranked and somebody knocks you off, it’s going to be a court storm. So, we’re aware that we’re going to get everyone’s best shot. But we do have a very mature team.”
This was the first time in program history that N.C. A&T hosted a ranked team at the Corbett Sports Center.
Charleston: After falling behind by a few points early, Charleston used the CAA’s best scoring offense – putting up 80.5 points per game – to race away from the Aggies. In this one, Charleston used its depth and athleticism to push the pace, attempting a season-high 77 shots from the floor. Dunks and lay-ups were key too, as the Cougars outscored the Aggies 52-38 in the paint.
N.C. A&T: The Aggies have now lost six of their last eight games, and their schedule doesn’t get much easier. N.C. A&T is playing in its third different conference in three years, jumping from the MEAC to the Big South and now to the CAA, and this league might be the toughest it has played in. The Aggies still have to face four more teams ranked ahead of them in KenPom’s Division I rankings.
Charleston: Back at home, the Cougars host Delaware on Saturday.
N.C. A&T: UNC-Wilmington visits the Aggies on Saturday.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25