Despite Cougars Loss, Riller & Miller Turn In Career Performances
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
After having a six game winning streak end on Saturday at William & Mary, the College of Charleston men's basketball team were hoping to get back on track hosting Northeastern Thursday night. The Huskies brought a little better than .500 record (9-8, 3-2 CAA) to TD Arena with their own plan to take down the Cougars who entered the game with a 6-2 mark at home.
With William & Mary giving CofC their first loss in the CAA, the Cougars didn't expect to suffer back to back contests in the conference especially at home. However, when 40 minutes of basketball came to an end Northeastern prevailed, rallying from as much as 15 (55-40) down, upending Charleston 79-76 before 4300 plus stunned Cougar fans.
CofC Head Coach Earl Grant was disappointed with the outcome but gave NU their due. "It was very unfortunate for our fans. We had a great crowd tonight.It just sucks that we couldn't get that win for them. They really deserved it. They were really into the game. Give Northeastern credit. When you do have opportunities to make some shots and make some plays, they made the plays."
Grant Riller and Sam Miller scored 20 points apiece to lead the Cougars. Riller turned in the first triple double in CofC program history, hauling in 10 rebounds to go along with 10 assists. Miller turned in a career best, shooting lights out from downtown, making 6 of 7 from long range.
Coach Grant recognized the outstanding efforts of both players. "Grant had a triple-double. Sam had a career night for us. When you look at the 13 turnovers and how many turned into points for them. It was hard to believe we were in that situation the way we typically take care of the ball." Zep Jasper went 5 of 6 from the foul line to add 13 points for the Cougars, who fall ot 11-8 on the season and 5-2 in the conference.
Given the teams overall play Coach Grant said it was hard to take. "Tough pill to swallow. I really didn't have a lot to say to the guys. There were so many good things that happened in the game that our players did. The only thing I could tell them was that possessions matter." CofC turned the ball over 13 times, with several leading to crucial points for the Huskies. "There were too many times with miscues with the ball led to offense for them (Northeastern). I thought our effort was good."
The Huskies jumped out to an early 8-2 lead before an 18-2 run fueled by 3-point shots from Miller, Brevin Galloway, and Riller put the home team up 20-16 with 12:38 left in the opening period. With under six minutes remaining CofC extended their margin to 14 (35-21) points. But NU would not go give in, getting behind a 15-8 run to close out the first half, trailing 43-36 at the break.
A pair of free throws by Jordan Roland cut the lead to just five inside the first minute of the second half. The Cougars went on a tear, leading by 15 when Jasper made two from the charity stripe. Charleston would maintain a double digit lead for over seven minutes until a steal and a lay-up by Gulien Smith brought the visitors within eight (65-57) with 8:52 showing on the clock.
Northeastern continued to whittle away at the lead, eventually tying the contest at 70 all with less than two minutes showing on the clock. A lay-up by Roland gave NU the lead, with Riller answering on the other end of the court, making it 72 all with one minute to go. Roland followed that up with a long range missile for a three point cushion.
The Huskies were solid from the foul line in the closing seconds, with Riller's long range attempt to tie the game with six seconds remaining falling short, and into the hands of Roland as time expired. Roland would finish with a game high 33 points adding five shots from beyond the arc. Brace Bolden would add four from long range to pump in 19 points for NU who improve to 4-2 in the CAA and 10-8 overall.
In the end Riller said it was a combination of a few things that lead to Northeastern's rally. "We just gave up transition buckets, some open threes, and eventually, they (Northeastern) just made a run."
Despite his own career night Miller admitted he was keeping track of Riller's stats. "Coach Grant said he had seven (rebounds) at halftime and I noticed he was grabbing a lot of rebounds. I did kind of make a mental note that he might be on to something like that, which is cool." He added it would be sweeter if the outcome had been different.. "But we wanted to get the win."
It won't get any easier on Saturday as the Cougars will next host preseason CAA favorite Hofstra (14-5, 5-1 CAA) at 4 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. Tickets can be purchased for the game by calling (843) 953-COFC or online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets