Riller & Brantley Combine For 42 points, Cougs Earn 600th Division 1 Victory
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
For the first 30 minutes in the basketball game between the College of Charleston and William & Mary men's teams, the contest could have gone either way. Neither team had more than a two possession advantage until the Cougars took control with about 10 minutes left to play. A 3-pointer by Grant Riller gave CofC an eight point margin (52-44) midway through the period. The Tribe would hold tough trailing 62-57 with five minutes left to play before Charleston finished with a 12-2 run, en route to a 74-59 victory.
Riller would once again lead the Cougars in scoring, finishing with a game high 24 points. Riller connected on 9 of 13 from the field, including 2 of 3 from long range, adding 4 of 4 from the foul line. Riller had help from Jarrell Brantley who recorded another double-double, hauling in a game best 11 rebounds to complement his 18 points. With the win CofC improve to 16-6 on the season and move to 4-4 in the CAA. Saturday's victory marked the 600th win for the College of Charleston since becoming a Division 1 NCAA member (1991-92 season).
After a rough couple of weeks, CofC Head Coach Earl Grant said the team got back to basics. “Obviously, it was a much-improved defensive performance and another night where we guarded pretty hard. William & Mary is very hard to guard. They have a great veteran coach that does a good job with their team. They try to stretch your defense out."
Coach Grant added the Cougars did a good job of staying focused aside from a few miscues. "I really thought our guys did a great job of having a lot of energy and enthusiasm. They really locked into the game plan. I was frustrated early with a few breakdowns we had. At the start of the second half, I didn’t think we had the energy we needed. Besides that, I thought we played an energetic and enthusiastic game. We did a great job of taking care of the ball as well.”
Riller echoed Coach Grant's assessment, admitting it takes an entire team to win games. “I think everybody that played minutes tonight played really well. A lot of the times me and JB get the shine just because of the points. A lot of the stuff the other guys do are really the reasons why we win. Especially, Quise (Pointer), Zep (Jasper), Sam (Miller), Nick (Harris), J-Rich (Richard), Jaylen (McManus) and Brev (Galloway). Even if they’re not making shots, they do so much for our team defensively, and just being a decoy more than anything. They are great players.”
The scoring was consistent on both sides with neither asserting themselves in the first half. William & Mary went up by four points (12-8) after a lay up by Nathan Knight. Minutes later a 3-pointer by Chase Audige put the Tribe up 17-12 with just over 12 minutes remaining. CofC would battle back to take the lead. Another lay up by Knight tied the contest at 26 all at the two minute mark. A long range missile by Riller with time expiring sent the home team into the locker room with a slight 33-28 advantage.
If was much of the same in the second half. A 9-4 run by The Tribe out of the gate tied the game at 37 after five minutes had elapsed. When Knight scored again on a lay up the visitors took their last lead (44-42) with 12:38 remaining on the clock. The Cougars answered with a 10-0 run capped off by Riller's 3-pointer, as CofC began to take control. Although W&M cut the margin to two possessions, Charleston closed out the contest with a 22-15 run providing a 15 point margin of victory.
Knight and fellow team mate Justin Pierce lead The Tribe with 18 points apiece. Pierce added 2 of 6 from beyond the arc. Matt Milon added 2 of 7 from long range to finish with 10 points for William & Mary. With the loss W&M fall 3-6 in league play and 7-14 on the year.
After a stretch where the Cougars lost 4 of 5 games, Coach Grant admitted it was nice to win back to back contests. CofC downed Elon on Thursday night at TD Arena. “I feel like we are in a renovation mode. We had a tough stretch and we had some breakdowns. We needed to go back to some day-to-day basic fundamental things. Some of that is youthfulness of some of our guys coming off the bench. Three-or-four guys who haven’t played a game in a Charleston uniform that are playing minutes." Coach Grant added they need to tweak a few thing moving forward. "We just need to make sure we tighten up some things. As we continue to go down the stretch of this season, hopefully, we can continue to get a little better.”
Charleston continue play at home, where they are 9-1 this season. CofC welcome James Madison University (9-13, 2-7 CAA) on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. Towson close out the four game homestand when they visit CofC next Saturday Feb 2nd for a 4pm game. Tickets can be purchased by calling (843) 953-COFC or going online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets