Cougars nip Troy

Published 11:22 pm Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In his final night as a Trojan Wednesday, Mario Telfair did something he has never done in his college career. Telfair posted a career high with 27 points in the Trojans 93-91 loss to the College of Charleston in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational in Trojan Arena.

Telfair was a force down low, as he grabbed nine rebounds in the game.

“I just didn’t want the season to end and I wanted another win so I could play another game with these guys,” Telfair said.

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The opening round of the CBI was exactly what Troy head coach Don Maestri said he thought it was going to be, an entertaining show on the hard wood.

Troy (19-13) got the three-point shooting started early when Brandon Hazzard drained a three-ball to open the game, but Charleston (27-8) took it from there, nailing 13-of-19 from long range in the first half of play to grab a 56-37 lead heading into halftime.

“We put on a shooting clinic in the first half,” Charleston head coach Bobby Cremins said. “And we knew they would go man-to-man in the second half and our big guys didn’t help us out in the second half.”

Troy slowly chipped away at the Charleston lead in the second half and stayed within four points for the final seven minutes of play.

“It has been our M.O. all year to blow big leads, but we hung on for the win,” Cremins said. “Troy played their hearts out in that second half.”

Telfair was a big reason for the Trojans’ comeback, as he hit 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch and had a couple of put-backs on missed layups.

Hazzard hit a fast break three-pointer for the Trojans to cut the Charleston lead to 72-70 with 7:30 remaining.

Telfair slammed the ball down with 2:20 remaining to cut the Cougar lead to 82-79.

Hazzard found the bottom of the bucket with a three-pointer to cut the lead to 86-84 with 47 seconds left in the game.

In the waning seconds of the game Tony White Jr. went to the line for the Cougars and made 1-of-2 to leave the score at 90-88. Richard Delk was fouled and hit 1-of-2 free throws to cut the lead to 90-89, but Andrew Goudelock hit two free throws to give Charleston a 92-89 lead. Hazzard missed a three-point attempt and Jeremy Simmons hit one free throw to put the Cougars up 93-89 with four seconds left.

Troy’s Michael Vogler was fouled on a last-ditch three-pointer attempt with less than two seconds to go in the game. He made the first two and missed the third on purpose, but Troy could not snag the rebound and Charleston walked away with a 93-91 victory.

“This group of guys never quit,” Maestri said. “It is very easy to quit against a good team like Charleston at halftime, but you could see it in their eyes that they were not going to die.”

Maestri said this season has been a good one for the Trojans.

“It has been such a fun year, but the saying is that good things always come to an end and that is one statement that is very true for this year,” he said. “It will take us a long time to get this sick feeling out of our system not because we got beat, but because we won’t be together again.