Demon Deacons Keep Riller In Check, Jasper Scores 13 Pts.
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Although they trailed by just two points at intermission, the College of Charleston men's basketball team weren't able to overcome any deficit after the break, trailing by 10 points late in the game, before falling 65-56 to Wake Forest in the first round of the Paycom Wooden Legacy on Thanksgiving Day. Coming off a last second loss to UCF on Saturday, the Cougars fall to 3-3 on the season, and play Providence on Friday in the west coast classic.
Despite four players in double figures, and cutting the lead to just three points with 3:29 remaining in the contest, the Cougars just didn't have the offensive mojo down the stretch. As time was expiring, CofC was forced to foul with the Demon Deacons near flawless from the charity stripe.
CofC head coach Earl Grant said Wake Forest took the Cougars out of their normal game plan. "Give Wake Forest credit. I thought they did a great job of defending some of our actions. Certainly, the free throw shooting(was a difference in the game). They beat us +13 on the free throw line. We needed to play a little bit better."
Coach added they had their chances near the end. "We cut it to three points with about two and a half minutes to go. We had a couple of opportunities to execute and get that lead a little closer. They made the stops and forced us to take a couple of tough shots. We couldn't get closer than three."
Like CofC, Wake Forest had their own balanced offensive attack, with big man Olivier Sarr leading all scorers with 14 points, and a game best 14 rebounds. Torry Johnson chipped in 13 points, with Isaish Mucius and Brandon Childress adding 10 apiece for the Demon Deacons, who improve to 4-2 early in the season.
Zep Jasper lead the Cougars with a season high 13 points, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. Grant Riller had 11 points, most of them in the first half, after sitting out more than five minutes in the second half due to a bruised ankle. Jaylen McManus and Brevin Galloway each had 10 points for the Cougars. The combined efforts of Sam Miller and Osinachi Smart added eight points and 12 rebounds. With the loss CofC fall to 3-3 overall.
Charleston took an early lead (7-5) on a 3-pointer by McManus after five minutes had gone by. Wake Forest would go up by as many as eight points (20-12) past the midway mark. The Cougars hung tough chipping away at the lead, getting behind a 14-8 run, heading into the locker room down 28-26 at the half.
After a long ball by Johnson the Demon Deacons re-established another eight point margin (39-31) with 16:51 remaining. Two minutes later another long range missile by Childress put Wake Forest up by double digits. When Miller answered from long range for the Cougars with under 11 minutes left, CofC trailed 46-42.
Wake was able to maintain a two possession lead, until Jasper connected from beyond the arc making it 56-53 with 3:29 on the clock. The Demon Deacons made good from the line in the final two minutes, making 7 of 8 attempts, with Charleston having very little to counter the offensive attack.
The final stats were close in every category except on the glass and at the foul line. Wake Forest out-rebounded CofC 47-33, including grabbing 13 offensive boards. The Demon Deacons had 27 attempts from the free throw line, making good on 21. The Cougars made only 7 of 14 attempts from the charity stripe. Wake Forest got 26 points from their bench with CofC just seven from the reserve players.
Coach Grant said one of the keys of the contest for Wake Forest, was keeping Riller well below his average of 22 points per game. "They trapped some ball screens early. They switched some and put a bigger guy on him. He was aggressive, but they did a good job of squeezing him with the double team and ball screen."
The Cougars will face Providence (4-3) in the consolation semifinals Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. (ET) / 1:30 p.m. (PT). The game will be televised live nationally on ESPNU.