Cougars Can't Slay Dragons, Fall To Drexel 79-78

Loss Ends 22 Game Win Streak At Home

By Jeff Walker, Sports Writer

Fresh off their 11 point loss (69-58) on the road at JMU, the College of Charleston men's basketball team were hoping to get back on track with a win. Playing at home for the first time since Dec 21st CofC welcomed Drexel to TD Arena Thursday night in CAA action. In a game that went down to the wire, the Cougars couldn't slay the Dragons as Drexel came out on top 79-78 leaving 4000 plus fans in utter shock.

In the final minutes eight minutes of play Charleston was outscored 22-8, as Drexel erased a 13 point deficit (70-57) to climb back in the game. A layup by Zep Jasper provided the Cougars with a 77-68 lead with 3:44 remaining. But it was all Drexel in the final minutes as they closed out the contest with an 11-2 run capped off by a controversial foul that allowed Drexel's Troy Harper three shots from the foul line. Trailing 76-78 with 1.1 second on the clock Harper made all three, leaving the home a desperation half court shot that was off the mark.

Like many in attendance CofC Head Coach saw the closing foul differently. “I thought it was on the floor. I haven’t watched the film. They (the officials) watched it. Usually in a situation like that with a guy going that fast. He’s trying to get to the rim. He (Harper) got clipped and got fouled. You would imagine he would go to the free throw line and shoot 1-or-2 (free throws). They called it on a three. We never should of put ourselves in that position, so he made them. You can’t get them back.”

Junior guard Grant Riller who lead his team in scoring with 18 points including 2 of 6 from long range echoed his coach' comments. “I thought it was on the floor. I thought he (Troy Harper) got tripped and lost it (the ball), but it is what it is. We were up 13 at one point and we let the lead slip away. We didn’t get stops. Regardless if we score one point, if we hold them to zero, we still win. We just didn’t get stops.”

The Dragons lit up the scoreboard first but the Cougars quickly jumped out on top. CofC went up 20-10 after seven minutes of play, but Drexel came to compete getting behind an 11-2 run to make it a contest. A 3-pointer by Trevor John with 8:27 remaining in the half, broke a 26 all tie giving Drexel their first lead since the opening play. Both team traded baskets before an old fashioned three point by Nick Harris reclaimed the lead (35-33) for the home team. CofC would close out the first 20 minutes of play with a 14-8 run to take a 49-41 lead into the locker room.

Charleston controlled the tempo in the second half going up by as many as ten points on several occasions, extending their advantage to 13 points with 8:20 left on the clock, with fans assuming the Cougars had the victory in hand. But after a time out the Dragons knocked down three consecutive long range missiles cutting the lead to just four points. The Cougars had no answer on offense as late game turnovers and missed shots prevented the home team from victory.

With the misstep at JMU the Cougars have now lost two in a row following a 10 game win streak. The loss at TD Arena also ends a 22 game win streak on their home court. Despite the entire starting team scoring in double figures the Cougars fall to 13-4 on the season and 2-2 in league play. Brevin Galloway matched his career high with 17 points (7 of 11), with Nick Harris adding a season best 13 points for the Cougars.

Drexel had four of their starters finish in double figures with John leading the way with a game high 22 points. Alihan Demir went 9 of 14 with two from beyond the arc for 20 points for the Dragons. Harper who provided the last second heroics finished with 17 points. With the win Drexel improve to 2-3 in the CAA and 8-10 overall.

Coach Grant summed up the game as, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. That was a tough pill to swallow the way the game ended tonight. We did some things that put ourselves in that situation. It was real painful. Good learning lesson. But, a very painful way to learn in a game like that with the crowd being so great. There was a lot of energy in the gym."

With another CAA opponent on tap for Saturday Coach Grant said they have to put the loss behind them. "We just could not find a way to get that game won. It’s a lesson you have to deal with, learn from it and move on. We have another game soon. We have to get back to practice tomorrow and figure out what we can do better.”

The Cougars continue their CAA homestand with Delaware (12-6, 4-1 CAA) on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 4 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. Tickets can be purchased by calling (843) 953-COFC or online at www.CofCSports.com/tickets

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