The Citadel on a hot streak in SoCon men's basketball

The Citadel on a hot streak in SoCon men's basketball

February 7th, 2018 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

There's been a change in the Citadel men's basketball program.

A good one.

The Bulldogs are riding the wave of three wins in their last four games, including defeats of Wofford and Furman — teams tied for third in the Southern Conference. In the most recent win over the Paladins, the Bulldogs (9-14, 4-7) rallied from down 17 points in the second half to force overtime and appeared to wear out the visitors, limiting Furman to 2-of-10 shooting in the extra period of a 100-92 win.

Furman had defeated The Citadel 107-67 on Jan. 4.

The four wins in league play equal last year's season total and the most for the program since the 2014-15 season. And the Bulldogs still have seven games left.

"It's a totally different team," Furman coach Bob Richey said after seeing the 48-point swing in the two meetings. "They are playing totally different. They change up their defenses, try to keep people on their heels. They've shrunk their rotation down and are playing harder with a lot more belief. (Zane) Najdawi is as good as any post in the league, and we couldn't do anything with him. (Matt) Frierson's shooting the ball, (Kaelon) Harris is shooting it, Frankie (Johnson) is driving it.

"Look, they are good. If you ask any of the four coaches they've played in the last four games, they'd agree."

Najdawi, the SoCon player of the week, averaged 22 points and 8.5 rebounds last week in the two wins, going over 1,000 points for his career.

The Bulldogs are a missed 3-pointer at the buzzer away from a four-game win streak, as Alex Reed's miss helped league-leading East Tennessee State survive a 73-71 battle.

ETSU coach Steve Forbes called The Citadel and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga the "two most improved teams in the league" recently. The Mocs defeated Samford and second-place UNC Greensboro in two of their previous four games.

The Bulldogs and Mocs play in Chattanooga on Thursday.

Gilbert honored

UTC senior guard Keiana Gilbert was named the women's player of the week for the second time this season.

The 5-foot-10 Gilbert averaged 18.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in the Mocs' wins over Western Carolina and UNC Greensboro, moving into 14th place in UTC career scoring with 1,322 points.

For the season, Gilbert ranks in the top 15 of seven SoCon statistical categories and leads the league in minutes played per game at 38.1.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.


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