Cougars Survive 'Big Cat Fight', Down GSU Panthers 84-80

Riller Leads The Way From Foul Line, Galloway Drains Five 3-pointers

By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer

Coming off their season opening win Tuesday night over USC Upstate, the College of Charleston welcomed Georgia State University to TD Arena for a Saturday afternoon contest. The Panthers out of the Sun Belt Conference came to Charleston after picking up their first win, a 104-35 rout over Brewton-Parker, giving head coach Rob Lanier his first win in his debut at Georgia State.

The Cougars proved a stronger opponent, and when all the dust settled on John Kresse Court, CofC came out on top, in a game that kept the 3800 plus fans on edge, downing the Panthers 84-80. Emotions ran hot for the entire 40 minutes, with the Panthers holding a five point lead (75-70), with 5:33 remaining. A 7-2 run by CofC and stepped up defense made the difference in a game that could have gone either way.

CofC Head Coach Earl Grant likes for his team to keep opponent under 60 points. But GSU had some offensive weapons and played aggresive throughout, causing the Cougars to turn the ball over 16 times, allowing for 14 GSU points. The Panther won the battle on the glass as well, outrebounding the Cougars 40-28 including 16 offensive boards. CofC were called for three technical fouls as well.

Coach Grant admits there is still work to be done moving forward. "We have to continue to work on being sharper. Some of it was defensive rebounding. We have to be better on the glass. When we needed stops, we got the stops.Their ability to score was us having 16 turnovers. We gave them some points and we've been one of the Top 10 teams in the nation in ballcare the last five years here. It was out of character."

Grant Riller lead the Cougars with a game high 23 points, doing most of his work from the free throw line. Riller went 14 of 14 from the charity stripe including buckets late to help secure the win. Brevin Galloway chipped in 19 points, hitting 5 of 8 from long range. Jaylen McManus went 2 of 3 from downtown for his 13 points, with Jaylen Richard coming off the bench for 13 points as well.

Although Riller went 4 of 10 from the field, he did make two of the Cougars first three baskets as CofC went up 7-5 in the first four minutes of play. A steal leading to a dunk by Riller would extend Charleston's lead to 15-7 at the 12:33 mark. But the Cougars could not build on the lead, with a lay-up by GSU's top scorer Justin Roberts closing the gap to 20-18 with just over nine minutes before the break.

The scoring pace picked up from that moment on with CofC up by seven points before taking a slim 40-39 lead into the locker room. The war waged on in the second 20 minutes of play. A 13 to 5 run by the hometeam put CofC up 53-44 inside the first four minutes.

The Panthers did not relent, tying the game for a third time at 57 apiece on a pair of foul shots by Kane Williams. The contest went back and forth from that point on, with the game tied three more times, including 77 all after McManus hit from beyond the arc. CofC would close the game on a 7-3 run, including a jumper by Richard, and clutch free throws from Richard and Riller to secure the victory.

McManus said he's been practicing his game since day one, and was happy to step up with the game on the line. "It's something I've been working on all four years since I've been here. I've been working on different shots off the three and move. It was a confident shot.I knew I could make it, so I took it."

Galloway's whose five 3-pointers proved big througout didn't expect the Cougars to have an easy go of it, giving GSU their just due. "We knew it would be a be a dog fight with their (Georgia State) resume and making the NCAA Tournament the last two years. They are a gritty group. It brought us up to another level. I respect them a lot."

The College of Charleston improve to 2-0 after their first full week back on the court. GSU who was lead by Roberts with 22 points, and Josh Linder with 19 points fall to 1-1 early in the season.

The Cougars close out their three-homestand with a rematch against Oklahoma State (2-0) on Nov. 13 at 9 a.m. (ET) at TD Arena. The game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. Tickets can be purchased by calling (843) 953-COFC or online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets

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