CHARLESTON, S.C. - College of Charleston freshman Pat Branin has played in six basketball games this season. He played in garbage time Saturday against the Mocs -- garbage time of the first half.
The Cougars steamrolled to an 86-59 Southern Conference victory over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in TD Arena.
"I knew when it was 7-0 that they were on and we weren't," UTC coach John Shulman said. "We had to throw a punch early. We didn't."
They never did.
Charleston's Anthony Stitt led all players with 20 points, Willis Hall and Adjehi Baru each scored 13 and Baru also had 10 rebounds and finished a thunderous alley-oop that impressed everybody in the gym -- even Shulman.
"We can't let someone come into our house and play harder than us from the beginning," Stitt said. "We were really focused on our intensity from the start, and that was a big boost for us."
The Mocs (7-10, 2-2) were led by 10 points from Ronrico White. Nobody else broke double figures. Zaccheus Mason had six points and seven rebounds, but he and center Drazen Zlovaric combined to go 4-for-22 from the floor.
"It was a physical game and they whipped our tail," said Shulman, who informed his team before the game that Sam Watson's grandmother had died.
"They were physical not only on the glass, but defending and not letting us go set screens," he added. "From second one, they took us completely out of what we wanted to do."
Almost everything the Mocs tried turned out dismally. Zlovaric went in for a first-half dunk and had it blocked against the glass by Hall. UTC started 1-of-11 from the floor.
Almost everything the Cougars tried turned to gold. Stitt missed a free throw, chased it down and swished a fade-away jumper. Charleston started 7-of-12 from the floor and led 20-2 about eight minutes after tipoff.
UTC seemed to get going in the right direction with an 8-0 spurt to pull within 10. Charleston then went on an 11-2 run.
"We were totally outplayed tonight," White said. "We have to play more spirited than that. That's unacceptable."
The Cougars, who lost 62-57 to Samford on Thursday, scored the game's first seven points before Shulman called for time. Starting guard Gee McGhee picked up his second foul less than four minutes in.
But the onslaught forced Shulman to sub offense for defense -- usually reserved for end-of-game situations -- at every stoppage in the first half.
Charleston led 50-24 at halftime, when the school celebrated the 30th anniversary of its NAIA national championship.
UTC had no answer in the second half. Shulman said McGhee and Eric Robertson had inspiring moments, but they were few and far between for the final 20 minutes.
"This woke us up," said Shulman, whose team earned a split on this road trip. "This does not deter us."
Baru punished the Mocs with the dunk at the 12:19 mark that's worthy of any basketball team's season-recap highlight reel. He caught the pass from Andrew Lawrence more than a foot to the right of the backboard and slammed it down with his right hand.
"That's an Olympian [for Great Britain] throwing a pass to a top-50 player in America," Shulman said. "I looked at the clock and starting thinking, 'Run, run, run.'"