Cougs Hold Cobras To 18 Pts. In 2nd Half, Riller Leads The Way With 23 Pts.
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Returning home for the first time since November 13th, College of Charleston men's basketball team rebound after a final round loss in the Wooden Legacy, holding Coker to just 18 second half points, en-route to a 76-50 in front of 3700 plus fans at TD Arena Sunday afternoon. CofC's Grant Riller lead all scorers, finishing with 23 points including 9 of 9 from the foul line. Riller hauled in a game best 10 boards as well. With the win the Cougars improve to 5-4 on the season. Coker fall to 2-4 overall.
After going 1-2 in the Wooden Legacy over Thanksgiving, and off for nearly a week due to school commitments, the senior guard was happy to get back out on the court. "We haven't played in about five-or-six days. Every time around this time of year, this game is usually tough. We schedule an opponent that competes in all of their games whether its D-II or Division I."
Coming off a lackluster 77-56 defeat to UCF during the final game of the west coast classic, Riller says he and his team-mates resemble more of how they looked when the season kicked off. "We looked more like ourselves in the second half and were on our feet. Luckily, we got a W."
Although the Cougars never trailed in the contest, the Cobras kept within reach in he first half, tying it on two occasions, the second (19 all) coming midway thru the opening period. CofC would run off six straight points, maintaing a two possession lead before heading into the locker room up 37-32 at the break.
CofC head coach Earl Grant said the Division II school out of Hartsville SC gave the Cougars all they could handle for 20 minutes of play. "Give Coker credit. They were very competitive and did a good job of blocking shots at the rim. We were up five at halftime, but I thought in the first half we had maybe 10-12 points at the rim that got blocked. We made some adjustments in the second half and our guys did a better job of finishing. Our bench really helped us with some energy."
It was all Charleston after intermission. When Osinachi Smart made on of two from the foul line with 14:27 remaining, the Cougars were on top 45-35. A little more than 10 minutes later a dunk by Brenden Tucker gave the home a 20 point (63-43) margin. The sizable lead allowed Charleston to play the entire bench.
Coach Grant was pleased with how his players stepped up in the final 20 minutes of play. "They had 18 points in the second half and we held them to 21.9 percent from the field. We have to build on that. We played to our standards and only turned it over two times in the second half. We had nine assists and shared the rock."
Grant added the Cougars still need to work on consistency. "We are still in the process of trying to figure out how to play closer to 40 minutes of great basketball. We have been playing 25-to-26, but the game is 40. I was happy we were able to find a way to win the game."
For the Cobras, they were led in scoring by Noel Pinnock with 13 points, while AJ McQuaige had nine rebounds and six blocks. While Riller lead the Cougars, he had help in the scoring department from Jaylen McManus (11 points), with Smart chipping in a career high 10 points and a season best nine rebounds.
Smart admits he's improving as the season progresses. "I think my confidence is from working every day. In practice and getting in the gym with our coaches, getting shots up, watchingfilm and building on it. I probably gained my confidence against Providence. Losing the first game of the tournament (against Wake Forest), we knew we had to play hard. The Providence game really got me going."
The Cougars will travel later this week to Richmond (8-1) for their final non-conference road game of the season on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. (ET) in Richmond, Va. The game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.