Friday, December 15, 2006

David Caraviello's article in the Post & Courier

Draper saves the dayStar scores Cougars' final 6 points, blocks Mocs' shot at buzzerCollege of Charleston 62, Chattanooga 60

Bobby Cremins had a timeout. Dontaye Draper didn't need one. With a Chattanooga defender in front of him and the clock running out, all the College of Charleston's star guard saw was the hoop. (Photo by Wade Spees w/ the Post & Courier)
In one dramatic motion, the 5-11 senior spun around Chattanooga guard Kevin Bridgewaters, scooped in a layup with 4.1 seconds remaining, and just maybe salvaged the Cougars' basketball season. Draper scored the Cougars' final six points of the game, blocked Chattanooga's attempt at a final shot, and rallied Charleston from 13 down to beat the Mocs 62-60 on Thursday before 3,133 at John Kresse Arena.
"They just about had us buried," Cremins said. "We didn't quit. And finally at the end, Dontaye Draper made some big-time plays. We put the ball in his hands, and he delivered."
Marcus Hammond and Jermaine Johnson added 13 each for the College (4-6, 1-1 Southern Conference), which snapped a four-game losing streak and avoided its first 0-2 league start since 2003. Cremins implemented a new motion offense during the recent nine-day exam break, and after four practices the Cougars shot 47.2 percent, their second-best clip of the year.
"Four straight, that's tough," said Draper, who scored a game-high 18. "When we came out of the break, we said it was a new beginning. In the first half of the season, we were still getting to know each other, we didn't have really any half-court offenses in. Now, the week of practice really helped us."
Casey Long scored 11 for Chattanooga (4-5, 0-1), which hit 12 3-point goals, rallied from a 10-0 deficit, and led by 13 with 12:34 remaining. But the Mocs
shot just 4-of-11 from the free throw line, and missed four of five attempts down the stretch.
Charleston took advantage. Two inside baskets by Johnson and another by David Lawrence whittled the deficit down to three with four minutes left, and Draper took over from there. With 2:17 remaining, he spun in for a layup that cut the deficit to one. After Khalil Hartwell made a free throw, Draper bombed a 19-footer over the outstretched hand of 6-7 Mocs forward Nicchaeus Doaks to tie the game with 49 seconds to go.

Long missed an NBA-length 3-point attempt on the other end, and Charleston's Philip McCandies snagged the rebound. As Draper brought the ball up the court, Cremins asked if he needed a timeout. His guard's response: No way.

"I said 'Oh, no. I've got it, Coach,' " Draper said. "Last time at Charleston Southern, (the shot went) in and out. I told him no that time, I told him no this time. I've got the confidence. I'm going to give it all I've got. If I miss the shot, I miss the shot."
In the CSU game, Draper took a 3-pointer that rimmed out and led to overtime, where the Cougars lost. His teammates moved out of the way, isolating Draper and the 5-9 Bridgewaters, who had picked up Draper in transition. It happened fast - a spin move along the baseline, a scooped layup, and pandemonium in John Kresse Arena.
"One of my old moves from back in the day," Draper said.
Bridgewaters never had a chance. "I don't even see him," Draper said. "No disrespect, but I don't even see him. It was just me and the hoop."
Added Bridgewaters: "He made a good move. I don't know what the heck he did. It was kind of out of control."
For much of the second half, Chattanooga coach John Shulman had used bigger players like Hartwell and Doaks to try and thwart Draper's penetration. In the final seconds, off Long's missed 3-pointer, Bridgewaters was his only option.
"If it's football, we can stop the game. But that's in transition D," he said. "You can't decide on a missed shot who's guarding Draper. You pick up in transition D. Bridge is a good one-on-one defender. Draper made a great play."
Chattanooga had a last chance. Ricky Hood inbounded to a cutting Bridgewaters, who tried to hoist a 3-pointer from 20 feet. But Draper - who else - blocked it, and time ran out as players battled for the loose ball.
"I wasn't going to let him shoot the 3," Draper said. "That happened to me, I think my sophomore year, we were playing Davidson here. I made a tough shot, they came down and threw up a scoop shot that went in. I said, 'No.' "
And just like that, what had been a confusing, muddled start to a highly anticipated Charleston basketball season at last found some clarity. With their new offense, the Cougars moved the ball in spots as crisply as they have all year. They shot 55.6 percent in the second half. They snapped the program's longest losing streak in 27 years. They climbed back to .500 in conference play, and their star player played like a star.

"We really needed something like this," Cremins said. "We needed a lift like this."

--Josh Jackson returned from suspension Thursday night, playing 22 minutes and scoring six points. Cremins had said that Jackson, suspended indefinitely since Nov. 20, would return to the team if he was academically eligible following exams ... Assistant coach Andrew Wilson wasn't on the bench Thursday, but on the road recruiting ... Charleston next plays Monday at 8:30 p.m. against Coastal Carolina in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

3-Point Field Goals - Chatt 12-27 (Doaks 0-2, Mays 3-6, Hood 2-4, Long 3-7, Watts 0-1, Bridgewaters 2-5, Troupe 2-2); C of C 4-21 (Lawrence 0-6, Draper 2-9, Hammond 2-4, White 0-2). Steals - Chatt 4 (Mays, Long 2); C of C 9 (Draper 3). Blocks - Chatt 0; C of C 7 (Lawrence, Jackson 2). Turnovers - Chatt 16 (Long, Bridgewater 3); C of C 15 (McCandies 3). Technicals - None. A - 3,133.

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