It was almost a déjà vu again – almost.
For the second time this week, the College of Charleston led by double digits in the second half against an Atlantic-10 team.
The Cougars gambled away a 21-point lead against Richmond on Monday night only to rally for a 92-90 overtime win.
The College of Charleston led by as much as 18 points against Davidson on November 17, only to see the Wildcats charge back and get into a single possession to tie the game.
This time the Cougars responded with an 18-2 of their own to knock out the Wildcats.
Dalton Bolon and Ryan Larson each scored 21 points and led four players by double digits as the College of Charleston edged Davidson 89-66 in the opening round of the Charleston Classic at TD Arena.
The Cougars face Colorado State, an 85-53 victor over South Carolina, in the semifinals of the ESPN tournament, which begins at 5 p.m
Larson, a Wofford graduate, had his best game in a Cougars uniform. Larson was 7 of 11 off the floor, including 5 of 8 of three.
“The coach always tells us to be great,” Larson said. “We slacked off a bit in the second half, thanks to them for hitting some really big shots. Offensive rebounding is one of those things we talk about all the time. We went back to that and spoke more defensively and you saw what it did for us.
Bolon, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, hit in the second half of the Cougars’ run with back-to-back 3 points and seven rebounds.
“I’ve been in college basketball for a long time,” Bolon said. “College basketball consumed my life and I put a lot into it, as did many of my teammates. But basketball doesn’t define us. We live for so much more. It means a lot to have a game like this on a stage like this.”
The Cougars outclassed the Wildcats in color and passed Davidson 42-32, including 15 offensive rebounds.
“They come at you in waves and they’re relentless,” said Davidson coach Matt McKillop, who inherited the Wildcats program this year from his Hall of Famer father, Bob. “They are very physical and we didn’t react the way I would have liked. Give credit to the College of Charleston, they were able to get a lot of second chance shots against us.
Pat Robinson and Ben Burnham each added 13 points for the Cougars.
“Pat is a dog and I mean that as a supplement,” said Cougars coach Pat Kelsey. “Pat is a competitor and not afraid of anything or anyone. Ben is a bucket. He can score with anyone. These two guys are big, big parts of what we do.”
The Cougars have never reached the championship game of the Charleston Classic.
Reach Andreas Mueller at 843-937-5599. Follow him on Twitter @APMILLER_PandC