Riller Fuels Second Half Comeback, CofC Down Elon 73-65

Senior Guard Scores 21 of His Game High 30 Pts After The Break, 

By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer

Trailing by as many as nine points in the first half, the College of Charleston men's basketball team cut the margin to just two at the break, returning to outscore Elon 37-27 after intermission for a 73-65 win on the road Thursday night. CofC extend their winning streak to six games, staying undefeated in the CAA (5-0) and improving to 11-6 on the season. Elon under first year head coach Mike Schrage fall to 0-4 in the CAA and 4-13 on the season.

CofC senior guard Grant Riller turned in back to back 30 point performances leading all scorers with 30 points, including a perfect 11 of 11 from the foul line. Brevin Galloway who has been lighting it up from long range went 3 of 6 from beyond the arc, adding 12 points to the Cougar total. Together Riller and Galloway accounted for all six of Charleston's 3-point shots.

After having just nine points, and the team trailing 38-36 at the half, Riller says CofC head coach Earl Grant got on the players in the locker room. "We weren't being aggressors like we usually are. We were lackadaisical on the defensive side of the ball. Coach did a good job of getting on us at halftime. We kind of picked our energy up as the game went on and ultimately, I think that's what led us to the win."

A 3-pointer by Elon's Hunter Woods put the Phoenix up 13-4 with a little more than five minutes gone in the opening period. An 8-0 run by the Cougars would make it a one possession game. A fast break layup by Riller with 8:15 remaining tied the contest at 22 all. Both teams would trade baskets with Elon holding on to a two point lead at the break.

During the first 10 minute of the second half it was much of the same, with balanced scoring on both sides of court, allowing for only a two or four point margin. A pair of free throws by Riller midway thru the period gave CofC a six point (55-49) advantage with 10:07 left on the clock. The Phoenix regained the lead (56-55) on a long range bomb by Marcus Sheffield II.

The score would be tied at 60 apiece with three minutes remaining before Riller closed the contest out with two from the field and four from the foul line to secure an eight point with for the Cougars. Riller would account for 21 of Charleston's 37 second half points.

Coach Grant said they made some adjustments to cater to Riller's strengths. "He made some big-time shots, which he always does. Tonight, we were up one and down one. We moved him to the point a little bit, moved Zep (Jasper) over to the two and put the ball in his hand. We put him in some situations to give him some space and he came up with two big threes to seal the game."

Elon who are still looking for their first CAA win under their new coach were lead by Sheffield II with a team high 19 points, including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. He had help from Simon Wright who added two from long range, finishing with 17 points, grabbing 10 rebounds as well. The Phoenix did manage to knock down nine 3-pointers, but were outdone at the charity stripe, with CofC making good on 27 of 33 from the line, to Elon's 10 of 16.

Coach Grant said picking up a road win is hard and requires a committed defense. "Obviously, it's hard to win on the road. I'm really happy for our guys. Anytime we can hold an opponent to 65 points or less, we have a chance to be successful. In the first half, it took us a while to get going. I didn't think our energy level was where it needed to be to start the game tonight. But, we found a way to get it going."

The Cougars next contest will be tougher. William & Mary (12-5, 4-0 CAA) defeated UNCW on Thursday night to set-up a battle of the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the league on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. (ET) in Williamsburg, Va.

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