The College of Charleston ended Cleveland State's season on Saturday in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
It was poor shooting that cost CSU the victory, as the sixth-seeded Cougars upset the second-seeded Vikings, 64-56, at the Wolstein Center.
CSU couldn't overcome shooting a dismal 1-of-25 (four percent) from three-point range. They also shot 33 percent (23-of-69) from the field.
"This has been a great year regardless of what occurred out there today," said CSU coach Gary Waters. "Sometimes the ball doesn't fall for you. When that happens nothing you can do."
Even Norris Cole struggled from the field shooting 6-of-22, including 0-of-8 from three-point range.
"It was a bad shooting day," said Cole. "Some of the shots were bad selection; others, the ball didn't bounce our way."
The Vikings finish the season at 27-9. The 27 wins are the second-highest single season total in school history, trailing only the 1985-86 squad who won 29.
CSU also set several school records this season. They won their first Horizon League regular season championship (shared with Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Butler). They also set school records for most wins to start the season (12), most wins before Jan. 1 (14), fastest to 20 wins (Jan. 29), most home wins (17) and most Horizon League wins in a season (13).
"My hat goes off to these young men because they worked their tail off," said Waters. "This was a special group. I had some pretty good teams and this one is up there because of how hard they work. There's not a team that works harder then this team in practice.
"I think what hurt us was not having a bench. I think it wore on them physically."
The loss marked the end of Cole's CSU career. The senior from Dayton finished with 18 points, raising his career scoring total to 1,978 points, third-best in CSU history.
"It's been a good journey," said Cole. "The best moments have been the relationship I built with Dray (D'Aundray Brown), I've been competing with him since we got here. The championship my sophomore year, the 27 wins, those are things I will remember."
"He's one of the best players I've ever recruited," said Waters on Cole. "I had some great ones like Earl Boykins and Quincy Douby, but none compare to him."
With CSU leading, 46-45, COC went on a 11-0 run to take a 56-46 lead with 5:45 left. The Vikings never recovered from that.
During the run, COC got a three-pointer from Antwaine Wiggins, followed by a three-point play from Wiggins. Then a pair of free throws from Trent Wiedeman and a three-pointer from Wiedeman.
"I thought the big key in the game was when No. 30 (Antwaine Wiggins) hit two big buckets," said Waters. "That changed the complexity of the game."
After shooting 41.9 percent (13-of-31) in the first half, CSU shot 26.3 percent (10-of-38) in the second half. They never could figure out COC's 2-3 zone in the second half.
The Cougars (26-10) were not much better going 5-of-18 (27.8 percent) from the field in the second half, but managed to go 14-of-15 (93.3 percent) from the line.
Junior center Aaron Pogue was the only other Viking in double-figures with 13 points, scoring 11 in the first half. He also added 14 rebounds.
"We knew we could attack these guys inside. That's what we talked about this week," said Pogue. "They played good defense [in the second half], but I think I could have done a little more."
COC had four players in double-figures led by Donovan Monroe with 16 points. The others were Wiedeman and Andrew Goudelock, with 13 each, and Wiggins had 11.
Cole did a marvelous job on defense against Goudelock.
Goudelock, who came in averaging 23.8 points per game (fourth in the nation), was limited to 13 points on 3-of-12 from the field, including 0-of-6 from three-point range. He went 7-of-8 from the line.
CSU took an early five-point lead, 17-12, and COC would tie the game at 21-21. The Cougars then built a lead as large as 11 in the first half and they took a 38-32 lead at the half. They would shoot 57.1 percent (16-of-28) from the field.
Trailing, 42-34, CSU would use an 8-0 run to tie the game at 42-42 as Cole found Joe Latas wide-open under the basket for an easy layup.
A minute later, CSU would take the lead, 44-43, on Charlie Woods' layup. On their next possession, COC took the lead back on a pair of free throws from Monroe. Then a layup by Trevon Harmon gave CSU its last lead, 46-45.