CHARLESTON, S.C — Wake Forest led College of Charleston by 14 at the end of an entertaining first half that saw nine Deacs score.
Though both teams played physical first-half defense, just eight fouls were called against both teams.
The second half was a completely different story, as the teams combined for 30 personal fouls and 36 trips to the foul stripe.
Two Cougars fouled out, and four Deacs finished the game one foul away from disqualification.
The Deacs (4-1) got clutch performances off the bench from the likes of Greg McClinton and Sam Japhet-Mathias to persevere through minute-limiting foul trouble to both John Collins and Dinos Mitoglou to defeat Charleston (3-2) 78-61 in the third-place game of the Charleston Classic at TD Arena Sunday night.
“We had to play through some adversity,” Wake coach Danny Manning said. “We picked up some fouls early and had to go deep into our bench and call upon some guys, mainly Greg McClinton, Big Sam (Japhet-Mathias) and Trent (Van Horn). Those guys gave us some good minutes.
“That’s kind of how our team is. No matter what five are out there, we expect them to get the job done. We were fortunate for that to happen.”
A 3-pointer by Austin Arians brought the Deacs even at 9 with 14:55 left in the first half, ending the last lead of the game for the Cougars.
Arians finished the game with 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting behind the arc. He added five rebounds and three assists.
An offensive rebound and follow dunk by Charleston’s Jarrell Brantley got the Cougars to within three at 20-17 with 7:22 left in the first half. The first 12 minutes of the contest was a physically contested rock fight with very little in the way of momentum.
The Deacs outscored the Cougars 19-8 the rest of the half, despite having to sit both Collins and Mitoglou with a pair of fouls each.
“We tell our guys all the time that they have to be ready,” Manning said. “For us to get a win with John (Collins) only playing 14 minutes and Dinos (Mitoglou) playing 17, that speaks volumes about the balance we have on our team.”
Manning brought Collins back in with 3:11 left in the half, but took him back out with 2:52 remaining. Japhet-Mathias took his place and scored four points in the first half, showing nice touch around the basket and at the free throw stripe.
His layup with :29 seconds left in the half gave Wake their 39-25 halftime lead.
Whatever rhythm the Deacs gained in the final eight minutes of the first half was completely squandered in the second with incessant referee whistles.
There were 18 second-half fouls called against the Deacs — most of them coming against post players.
“I don’t know. That’s the best answer I can give you right now without getting in any trouble,” Manning said when asked what he saw in the second half. “We’ll go back and look at the tape. Once we put them in the bonus defensively, we started doing a better job of playing defense with our head and our feet. We have to figure out a better way of doing it, because we can’t give up 26 points from the free throw line.”
Collins was limited to 14 minutes played, but made the most of his playing time, scoring 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 proficiency from the line. He had five rebounds and one blocked shot.
“It was gratifying to fight through adversity,” Collins said. “With the limited minutes I had, I came in the second half and gave my team a boost.”
Mitoglou was also limited, playing just 17 minutes. He scored eight points, had five rebounds and a blocked shot.
Japhet-Mathias? Just five total minutes played, but four personal fouls. Doral Moore also was whistled for four fouls in just 15 minutes played. He scored five points, had three rebounds and blocked three shots, but also committed four turnovers.
As Charleston repeatedly marched to the free throw stripe, they closed the gap, getting to within 10 at 62-52 with 6:38 to go in the game after a 10-0 run.
Collins, Bryant Crawford and Keyshawn Woods answered the bell for the Deacs, however, responding with a 12-1 run in a little over three minutes of game time to re-establish control with a 74-53 lead.
“Coach (Randolph) Childress, it was his scout tonight, and he challenged the team to see how many times they could get three stops in a row. We call it a turkey,” Manning said. “I think we got three in the first half, and I’m not sure how many in the second half. Guys have rallied around that, and we’re going to try to use that all year round.
“We’re going to try to string together as many three-in-a-row stops as possible throughout the basketball game. Offensively, we feel we have enough guys that are capable of scoring the basketball. We have to make sure we do it defensively.”
Crawford led the Deacs with 17 points and six assists against zero turnovers.
“Shots were just going in,” Crawford said. “I was getting to the rim and finishing tonight.”
Keyshawn Woods added 12 points on 2-of-4 3-point shooting, along with four assists and five rebounds.
Greg McClinton played 12 big minutes for the Deacs. Though he failed to score, he grabbed four rebounds, created one steal and picked up an important loose ball on the offensive end of the court. He seemed to always be in the right place at the right time.
“I like our balance,” Manning said. “We have a lot of guys capable of coming in and giving us good minutes. It doesn’t matter what five are out there, they still need to go out there and execute. It lets our guys know on the bench that don’t start, that we trust them and believe in them. We need them. Guys came through tonight with flying colors.”
The Deacs held Charleston to 33.3 percent field goal shooting and 27.8 percent shooting behind the arc. They outrebounded the Cougars 36-30.
“We played some pretty good defense for the most part, but there’s still some areas we need to clean up,” Manning said. “Whenever you can hold your opponents to this shooting percentage, you’re going to give yourself a chance for success on the road.”
The Deacs return to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when they host Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers have lost to Alabama 70-53 and Charleston 71-64 in early-season competition.