Cougars Fall To 3-4 In CAA, Return Home For Four Games
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
The second leg of College of the Charleston men's basketball teams northern road trip proved unfavorable on Saturday. After losing late (69-60) to pre-season favorite Northeastern on Thursday, Charleston had to take on unbeaten CAA opponent Hofstra Saturday afternoon in Hempstead, NY. While CofC had plenty of offense, shooting 52 percent from the floor, and three players in double figures, in the end the home team had much more clicking for them as The Pride rolled to an 86-72 win over the Cougars.
Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant said the team has to buckle down on defense if they expect to compete this season. “(Scoring) 72 points is enough to win, but they scored 86. We haven’t won when the other teams score in the 80s. We have to get back to work and really buy into our principles, but at the same time, improve our commitment to the defensive side of the ball. 72 is plenty to win."
Grant added the final stats looked strong but gave Hofstra their due. "We shot the ball really well from three, we got to the free throw line and shot over 50 percent from two. Anytime you do that, you have a great chance to win. I won’t take anything away from Hofstra. They are hard to guard which is one of the issues. They do a good job of getting into their stuff and have guys who can make shots. We had some breakdowns where we had a least 10-12 points of breakdowns where we needed to lock up (on defense).”
Charleston came out strong right out of the gate. Grant Riller nailed a long range bomb inside the first minute as the Cougars went up 7-0 after three minutes of play. But Hofstra kept at it finally taking their first lead of the contest when Justin Wright-Foreman made a lay up putting The Pride up 13-12 with 12:18 remaining in the half. Hofstra would never relinquish the lead, extending the margin to 10 pts (31-21) at the 5:18 mark. Riller ended the first half the same way he started draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer with CofC still trailing 42-34 at the break.
The Cougars would chip away early in the second half. A pair of free throws by Riller followed by a short jumper cut the lead to 49-47 with 15 minutes left to play. Two minutes later a lay up by Jarrell Brantley made it a one point (52-51) contest giving the home town fans something to worry about. After Riller made a lay up at the midway point the Cougars would once again trail by one (57-56).
But a 6-0 run by Hofstra would keep CofC at a distance. The home team would eventually build a double digit lead, up 72-62 with six minutes remaining. There was little left in the tank for the Cougars in the closing minutes with The Pride extending their advantage to 16 points on two occasions before finishing the contest with a 14 point win.
CofC usually defends well near the basket put allowed 36 points in the paint on Saturday, something Coach Grant said got them out of rhythm. “It was two things. One it depended who the guy was that had the ball. Sometimes it was (Justin) Wright-Foreman. That was some of it. No. 2 is they flattened it out. They had guys running off screens. We got caught up worrying about the screens. We didn’t guard the way we needed to up top.”
Coach Grant added, "Two things that we can control and do consistently, take care of the ball and play defense at a high level. Neither one of those things we did today. We have to go back and go fix those things, which I’m encouraged that our guys really want to do. Me and my staff will work as hard as we can to fix it. We will make the improvements we need to make. 86 points is too many.”
Eli Pemberton lead Hofstra in scoring with a game high 26 pts., making good on 9 of 14 from the field. Wright-Foreman made 6 of 10 including three from long range for 19 pts. Jacquil Taylor and Jaylen Ray added 16 and 14 points respectively for The Pride. Hofstra finished the contest shooting 62 percent overall making 10 of 21 from beyond the arc. With the win The Pride improve to 17-3 on the season and a perfect 7-0 in the league.
Riller lead the Cougars with a near perfect game. He shot 10 of 14 from the field, adding two from long distance with four assists to finish with 24 pts. Brantley had his sixth double double on the season hauling in a game best 12 rebounds to go along with 19 pts. Brevin Galloway was on fire for the Cougars making good on 6 of 7 from the floor, including 4 of 5 from down town for his 14 pts. With the loss CofC fall to 3-4 in the CAA and 14-6 overall.
Hopefully the Cougars can get back on track at home where they are 7-1 this season. CofC returns to the Lowcountry for a four-game homestand at TD Arena beginning with former Southern Conference rival Elon (6-14, 2-5 CAA) on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. (ET). Tickets can be purchased by calling (843) 953-COFC or going online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets