Cougars Survive Last Minute Nail Biter, Avenge Home Loss to Dragons
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
The College of Charleston men’s basketball team were anxious to go into Philadelphia and take down Drexel on their home court to avenge a controversial last second 3-point foul that ended the Cougars 10 game win streak and 22 home game winning streak earlier this season. Although the Cougs exploded for 50 second half points on Thursday in a 83-75 road win at Delaware, and scored 46 before the break at Drexel, the Dragons erased a 15 point deficit with four minutes to play, with Charleston holding on for a 86-84 win over their CAA rival.
The victory came with a lot of drama in the closing seconds. Jarrell Brantley who lead all scorers with 22 points for the Cougars drew a personal foul with 4.9 seconds to play, but after review the referees assessed a technical on Brantley as well which caused him to foul out. Sam Miller came in and cooly knocked down two from the line for a four point margin, only to have Drexel answer with their two freebies. A last second attempt by the Dragons lead to a CofC rebound as the Cougars escaped Philly with a hard fought win. With the victory the Cougars extend their winning streak to six games, and pick up their 20th win on the season.
CofC improve to 20-6 overall and 9-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Brantley had help from his team mates with four additional Cougars hitting for double figures. Grant Riller added 19 points. Marquise Pointer and Brevin Galloway had solid shooting performances finishing with 13 and 12 points respectively. Miller came in off the bench with a solid outing finishing with 11 points including the final two from the foul line. Drexel fall to 12-14, and 6-7 in the CAA.
Pointer who missed half the season due to injury and got banged up in the Delaware contest showed no signs of weariness. Head Coach Earl Grant took notice on Saturday. “He played really well tonight. We didn’t know if he would play. He got banged up in the Delaware game and sat out the second half. He didn’t do too much in practice yesterday, but he felt really good at shootaround today and we were able to get him out. He really gave us energy to start off the game.”
It was pretty much anyone’s game for the first 10 minutes of play. When Drexel’s Troy Harper scored with 10:46 remaining the score was tied at 18 apiece. But the cheese steaks in Philadelphia must have given the Cougars stored energy, as they quickly found the rim building a double digit lead, up by as many as 15 points before taking a 46-34 advantage into the locker room.
The home team live on cheese steaks, and they found some rhythm in the second half cutting the lead to nine points on a couple of occasions before CofC took charge going up 15 points on several occasions and a 16 point margin (59-43) after a pair of foul shots by Brantley. But the Dragons began to catch fire, slowly cutting into the lead. CofC would rally maintaining another 15 point advantage (77-62) on Brantley’s strength at the charity stripe with 4:09 remaining.
It was all Drexel from that point, narrowing the gap to one possession (83-80) after John Trevor sank one from long range. Trevor would add four more points including the two technical fouls before his missed jumper ended the contest with Charleston squeaking out the victory.
Coach Grant expected a rough and tumble contest between to the two squads. “It was a very physical game. The road is tough and I’m glad we were able to get two this week (Delaware & Drexel). This team has improved a lot. We have been guarding better and taking care of the ball well. A lot of their points came in the last five minutes. It was bizarre. We were guarding them well and we made big free throws at the end. We controlled the game for 35 minutes, but didn’t finish it off the way we would have liked to (defensively).”
A few miscues and the home town fans fired the Dragons up according to Coach Grant. “Drexel’s energy went up and the crowd got really into it. A few balls didn’t bounce our way and we had turnovers here and there. A couple of free throws were missed. They (Drexel) were capitalizing off our mistakes. Big ups to them for bouncing back and bringing the energy to bring it back that close.”
The Cougars return home to face the two top teams in the league in first-place Hofstra (21-4, 11-1 CAA) on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. (ET) and preseason CAA favorite and second-place Northeastern (15-9, 9-3 CAA) on Saturday, Feb. 16 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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