Cougs Avenge Earlier Season Loss, Riller & Brantley Combine For 46 Pts.
Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
For over 30 minutes in the game between the College of Charleston and James Madison men's basketball teams it was pretty cut and dry. There was a lot of offense with neither team lighting up the scoreboard until the Cougars found some late game angst, putting together an 18-2 run at the end of contest to cruise to a 70-53 win over the visiting Dukes.
CofC were no doubt trying to erase a January 5th loss (69-58) to JMU on their home court, that ended Charleston's ten game winning streak. The Dukes came into Charleston hoping to take the series from CofC, holding their own until the final eight minutes when the Cougars took charge to the delight of nearly 4000 fans at TD Arena.
As they have nearly all season long, Grant Riller and Jarrell Brantley lead the Cougar attack with 46 combined points. Riller scored a game high 24, shooting lights out 10 of 17 from the floor and adding two from long range. Brantley made 8 of 13 from the field with one from beyond the arc. With the win the Cougars improve to 17-6 overall and 6-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association. CofC remain a half game behind Northeastern in CAA play. The Huskies were idle Thursday night.
Having faced the Dukes for the past four years, and coming off a disappointing loss in Harrisonburg, Brantley expected a hard fought battle. “We were pushing the whole game and they were fighting back. Eventually, you would hope that it breaks the seal for us to push through and get a good win. This (JMU) team always fights us tough since I’ve been here. We didn’t expect nothing less today.”
CofC Head Coach Earl Grant anticipated a battle as well. "They have a good ballclub and it was a tough game. I thought we took another step in the right direction. The big thing we try to do is take care of the ball and rebound. We only had five turnovers, so not turning it over, being very disciplined with the ball and making the opponent have a hard time to find good shots. I’m happy for our guys, with a crowd that good and that loud, it was nice to play the right way for them. I thought we had great competitive spirit.”
The first few minutes of the contest were rather ho-hum. There was a lot of action but very little to show for it. The Dukes did stake their claim early going up 22-14 before the Cougars forged a 13-2 run that allowed for a three point lead for the home team. Stuckey Mosley provided much of the offense for JMU in the first 20 minutes of play, scoring 17 of his 22 overall points. Charleston would head into the locker room up 30-28 at the break.
The Dukes came out hot in the second half. A 5-0 run capped off by a Darius Bank's 3-pointer put JMU back on top. But the Cougs quickly doused the Duke's fire with their own 7-0 run. Charleston would hold court throughout maintaining a one or two possession lead for most of the second half until they un-earthed a offensive frenzy. Mosley drained a long range bomb cutting the Cougar lead to just one point with 7:49 remaining to play. Moments later Brantley made good on two from the foul line as CofC articulated an 18-2 finish out the contest. The Cougars are now 10-1 on their home court this season.
Coach Grant felt his players executed well at the end of the contest. "The last five-or-six minutes to be able to get stop-after-stop-after-stop, be disciplined, take care of the ball and execute offensively. I thought that was a good sign. That’s not something that we’ve done three weeks ago. We have to keep working hard and staying true to who we are. See if we can reach our potential over the next three weeks to six weeks.”
Coach added they are hopefully peaking at the right time. "They call it a season for a reason. You have to go all the way to the ends of March. I feel like we haven’t reached our potential, but we are showing some signs."
Aside from Mosley's 22 points the Dukes got 12 apiece from Dwight Wilson and Matt Lewis. The stat that hurt JMU most was turnovers. The Dukes turned the ball over 15 times with the Cougars committing just five miscues. James Madison fall to 9-14 on the season and 2-8 in league play.
It's a quick turn around the Cougars. Charleston host Towson (8-15, 4-6 CAA) next to close out a four-game homestand on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. Tickets can be purchased by calling (843) 953-COFC or going online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets