Charleston Suffer First Loss In CAA, McManus Leads Cougs With 12 Pts.
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Carrying a perfect 5-0 conference record with them to Williamsburg, Va., the College of Charleston men's basketball team did battle Saturday afternoon with the only other undefeated team in the Colonial Athletic Association. When all 40 minutes were over William & Mary came out on top, downing CofC 67-56, putting an end to the Cougar's six game winning streak. Charleston fall to 11-7 on the season and 5-1 in the CAA, with W&M improving to 5-0 in the league and 13-5 overall.
Prior to the road loss, the Cougars had usually come out on top when holding their opponents to under 70 points per game. But that wasn't the case on the Tribe's home court. W&M held CofC to just 34.5% shooting from the floor, their second worst offensive outing behind their loss to Oklahoma State. While the Tribe didn't fair much better they did manage to knock down 9 of 20 from beyond the arc, with the Cougars connecting on just 5 of 20 from long range.
Nathan Knight, who leads the nation in double-doubles, turned in a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds for William & Mary. Luke Loewe added 10 as the Tribe moved into first place in CAA league standings.
CofC head coach Earl Grant gave W&M their due. "Give William & Mary credit. They played good basketball today. They forced us to take some tough shots. Certainly Nathan Knight was a load. I thought their guards came in and made some timely threes."
The contest went back and forth, and was tied on several occasions for the first 17 minutes of play, until a 13-2 run by W&M provided the home team with a comfortable 37-27 lead at the break. Coach Grant admitted it was a rough patch. "We fed into the crowd. We had a tough three-minute stretch going into the locker room at half, where they forced us into tough shots, which led to some transition threes." CofC found themselves down by double digits for most of the second half, never finding enough offense to make a rally.
CofC senior guard Grant Riller who averaged better than 30 points per game in his last two outings, managed to score just 10 points against the Tribe. Shooting just 3 of 12 from the field, Riller managed to reach 10 points in the final minutes of the contest. Jaylen McManus lead the Cougars with a team high 12 points, going a perfect 6 of 6 from the foul line.
Of the loss, McManus said the team needs to commit to the same level of energy on both sides of the court. "We had a couple of breakdowns. It basically came down to execution. We have to learn from this game. We have to have better execution on offense and keep the same intensity and effort on defense."
Coach Grant praised his team, but admitted there is room for improvement. "We have to go back and learn from this failure and see if we can continue to get better as a team. I thought our players played with great effort. They (William & Mary) had 65 points with about a minute to go. I thought some (defensive) effort was there. We had too many mental breakdowns where we gave them some easy baskets, when we didn't need to do that."
The Cougars will return home for their next three conference games beginning with playing host to defending tournament champion Northeastern (9-8, 3-2 CAA) on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. Tickets can be purchased for the Black Out Game by calling (843) 953-COFC or online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets