Road Game Goes Down To The Wire, Riller Leads Cougs with 20 pts.
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
The College of Charleston men's basketball team fell on the road Saturday, as they left Orlando with 72-71 loss to the University of Central Florida. The game went down to the wire with CofC hitting four of five shots late in the contest, holding on to a two point lead with just over three minutes remaining.
But a turnover by the Cougars lead to an easy bucket for UCF tying the game at 68. Charleston would answer with a big three point shot by Brevin Galloway with 2:44 remaining on the clock. Collin Smith was the hero for UCF, leading the Knights with a game high 23 points, including two clutch free throws inside the final 20 seconds of play that gave UCF the victory.
With 10 seconds left the Cougars had a chance to pull out the win, but a three point shot by Grant Riller was in and out as the buzzer sounded. Riller who was playing in front of several home town family and friends, lead the Cougars with a team best 20 points. Riller made good on 8 of 17 from the field, adding four from the line. Galloway finished with 14 points including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. DeAngelo Epps came in off the bench adding eight points on 3 of 4 from the floor.
Cougar head coach Earl Grant said it came down to a few plays late in the contest. "Obviously, we had great opportunities coming down the stretch to execute and get a big stop. I thought we did that. But, it came down to a play here or a play there."
The Cougars jumped out to a big lead, up 20-7 after seven minutes of play. Midway thru the period CofC still held a nine point margin (23-14). But UCF rallied with a 22-14 run that put them down just one (37-36) at the break. The Knights found offense early after intermission going up by seven at the 15:40 mark. An 11-1 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Sam Miller put Charleston back on top 52-49 with just under 13 minutes to play.
It was pretty much a one possession game for the remainder of the the contest with the score tied on four occasions. A pass by Miller to Jasper went awry as the Knights came down with Smith draining a pair from the line with 13 seconds remaining that sealed the win for the home team. Riller's attempt rimmed the basket as time expired.
The Cougars fall to 3-2 on the year with UCF improving to 3-1 early in the season.
Coach Grant added, it was a tough road loss but they will continue to move forward. "We had a big turnover, with an opportunity for a layup and we had a miscommunication with two players. It's painful to be in that situation when you are making stops and making plays. I told the guys I can't question their effort. We have to learn from this and continue to build."
Charleston will have little time to reflect on the loss as they prepare for a west coast trip. CofC will travel to Southern California over the Thanksgiving holiday break for the Paycom Wooden Legacy and will open the tournament with Wake Forest in the opening round on Thursday, Nov. 28 at 4:30 p.m. (ET) / 1:30 p.m. (PT) in Anaheim, Calif. The game will be televised live nationally on ESPNews.