Riller's 31 Pts. Propels Guard Into 2nd in All Time CofC Scoring
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
The College of Charleston men's basketball team extend their winning streak to five games, and stay undefeated (4-0) in the CAA, downing James Madison University 85-69 Saturday afternoon at TD Arena. Grant Riller and Brevin Galloway combine for 52 points, as the Cougars improve to 10-6 on the season.
Riller's first bucket in the second half pushed the senior guard into second place all time on CofC's scoring list. He would finish the contest with 31 points, missing a double-double with nine rebounds, while dishing out four assists. Riller moved ahead of former CofC standout Ken 'Gus' Gustafson who played for the Cougars in the 1970's. Gustafson's record was broken in 2011 by current scoring leader, and former NBA player Andrew Goudelock.
Fellow players and Head Coach Earl Grant know Riller thrives on wins, not personal successes, which is why the stand out guard put his scoring feat in perspective. "It's an achievement that I will probably look back on later down the road and appreciate a little bit more. It's a blessing and honor that my coaches and teammates trust me enough to take the shots that I take and let me play so free."
Both sides lit up the scoreboard early on, with the Cougars trading 3-point shots for doubles. CofC was up 9-6 after just three minutes of play. By the time of the first media time out (14:56), Charleston held a slight 15-11 advantage. The quick pace continued with a lay up by JMU's Zach Jacob tying the contest at 20 all midway thru the period.
CofC would take their first double digit lead (41-31) with 1:47 showing on the clock, outscoring the Dukes 27-15 overall in the final 10 minutes of the first half, taking a 47-35 lead at intermission.
Riller wasted no time eclipsing his scoring milestone, hitting a bucket in the first 30 seconds of the second period. But it was the Dukes that came out of the locker room with renewed purpose, putting together a 16-4 run to tie the game a second time at 51 apiece with 14:18 left to play. Three minutes later the home team re-established dominance, enjoying an 11 point (64-53) margin.
JMU cut the lead to seven points before the Cougars built and kept another double digit lead on Riller's 3-pointer with 8:35 on the clock. Riller would go 2 of 4 from long range.
The Cougars played nearly a perfect game, finishing the contest shooting 53% from the floor, including 13 of 23 from beyond the arc. They made 18 of 23 from the charity stripe. Sam Miller added one from downtown, as he and Zep Jasper added seven points apiece for Charleston. The lone negative Saturday was the 18 turnovers the Cougars commited.
Galloway was equally impressive on Saturday, scoring a career best 21 points, making good on 7 of 10 from beyond the arc. He admits his first attempt fueled his drive. "Honestly, during the game, my first shot was an air ball. After that I thought, 'no shot will be uglier than that. They are going in after this one.' After the air ball, nothing was going to be worse than that, so I kept shooting it."
Coach Grant has come to expect big nights out of Galloway. "He is our green-light shooter. He has been shooting well all year. That's what we recruited him to do. He delivered tonight.He played great and did some unbelievable things. He made some timely, big-time shots."
Dwight Wilson and Matt Lewis lead the Dukes with 23 and 15 points respectively. Wilson hauled in a game high 14 rebounds to record a double double for JMU. With the loss the Dukes fall to 8-7 overall and 1-3 in conference play.
Gustafson a regular at Cougar home games, was in attendance when Goudelock surpassed his record, and was there Saturday as Riller moved passed him. Gustafson had this to say. "I never seen anyone move to the basket the way Grant does."
In less than a decade Gustafson's record has been eclipsed twice. "It's been great. I've enjoyed watching these players. It's been fun watching them. They are high quality basketball players." Regarding Riller Gustafson adds, "He could beat Goudelock if he keeps trying." Riller has now tallied 2,151 career points to date, and is 421 points away from Goudelock's all time total.
The College of Charleston hit the road for the next two games. The Cougars take on Elon on Thursday, travelling to Virginia to compete against William & Mary next Saturday. All CofC men's basketball games can be heard live on their radio partner ESPN 910 AM / 94.7 FM and televised on FloSports.