Clifford Ray Williams/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

WASHINGTON — They maybe separated by nine hours, but the cities of Charleston, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. have been a special place for Cougars head coach Pat Kelsey and his charges over the years. On Tuesday night, they added to their capital city legacy, needing all the charm that they built up as collateral to return to the NCAA Tournament after 40 minutes were not enough to get the job done.

Guard Reyne Smith scored 23 points, including eight of the Cougars’ nine points in the extra session, as Charleston saw off a game Stony Brook squad 82-79 to win its second consecutive CAA Tournament crown and punch its ticket to the Big Dance. Ben Burnham added 14 points and seven rebounds, while Frankie Policelli (12 points), Ante Brzovic (12 points) and Kobe Rodgers (10 points) also tallied double figures.

The Cougars are now winners of 12 straight, and have won the CAA Tournament three times in the past seven years. In the past three seasons, the Cougars have lost in Washington just once, and have won or shared the CAA regular-season title in each of the past two seasons.

The Seawolves, who ousted No. 2 seed Drexel and third-seeded Hofstra on back-to-back nights, overcame playing their fourth game in four days and almost used everything it had in reserve to pull off one of championship week’s biggest Cinderella stories. Down 66-56 with just over five minutes left in regulation, Stony Brook reeled off nine unanswered points and pulled even at 73-73 on an Aaron Clarke driving layup with 2:12 to go. Both teams had a pair of possessions down the stretch, but were unable to convert, forcing overtime.

In the extra session, Smith, the senior guard from Australia, came alive, hitting a layup and three-pointer to give the Cougars a 78-73 advantage with just over two minutes remaining.

Stony Brook did not score in the extra session until a minute left, though Tyler Stephenson-Moore’s three cut the Seawolves’ deficit to 79-76. Another Clarke three brought Stony Brook within two at 81-79 with five seconds remaining, but it would get no closer.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday’s event, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer photographer Clifford Ray Williams. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 22 pictures in total.

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Tags : Charleston CougarsCoastal Athletic ConferenceCollege BasketballStony Brook Seawolves

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