Two Clutch Baskets Inside Final Minute Secure Much Needed Win For Cougars
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Hoping to avoid a three game losing skid, the College of Charleston men's basketball team welcomed CAA pre-season favorite Hofstra to TD Arena on Saturday afternoon. With two of the best teams in the conference going head to head, it was a dog fight for 40 minutes, with the game going down to the wire as CofC managed to come out on top, winning 69-67 before 4301 fans.
Junior forward Sam Miller matched his career best set just two days prior in a loss to Northeastern, leading the Cougars with a game high 20 points. Miller went 7 of 12 from the floor, adding two from beyond the arc. He admitted his offensive output was rather different than Thursday nights game where he made six from long range.
"Both games were very different fashions. On Thursday, I hooped a lot of threes, and tonight, I worked up that zone and got some rebounds and stuff. I just tried to play hard and make it happen for the team."
CofC head coach Earl Grant says Miller is beginning to find his game. "He is bringing what we recruited him for. A big guy that was skilled, has good feel around the basket, can make shots and pass. He is starting to play to his potential. It's nice to see him have confidence and do some good things."
With the Cougars trailing 65-64 with one minute left to play, Miller drained his second from downtown to put CofC up by two. 20 seconds later a layup by Hofstra's Isaac Kante would again tie the game. Needing an insurance basket, Riller missed a short jumper with 12 seconds remaining, only to have Miller grab the rebound it put it right back up for the lead. The Pride would turn the ball over on their final possession as time expired.
Coach Grant said both shots were crucial for the Cougars. "Certainly, he had a big shot there late. Give Brevin (Galloway) credit, he trusted him. He trusted his teammate and it was the right decision and that guy delivered. Sam also got a tip-in late and he's playing really good basketball right now."
Saturday's contest was close throughout with Hofstra maintaining the lead for most of the first half. The Cougars only lead (24-23) in the first 20 minutes of play was on a dunk by DeAngelo Epps midway thru the period. The Pride were up by seven (33-26) with just under seven minutes to play in the first half, taking a narrow 41-39 lead at the break.
The Cougars came out of the lockeroom with a little bit more purpose, quickly taking the lead. The score was tied for an eighth time (49 all) before CofC went up by four. It was never more than a two possession game after that. A 3-pointer by Desure Buie provided Hofstra a 62-58 advantage with 5:38 remaining. An 11-5 run by the Cougars including Miller's clutch baskets would propel CofC to victory.
Grant Riller turned in a double double, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Cougars. Coming off a tough last second defeat at home against Northeastern the senior guard said it shows the resolve of the team. "We lost a tough one on Thursday and we knew this one was going to be just as tough. This kind of showed the resilience of this team and the bounce back today, putting on the performance like we did."
Zep Jasper who's proven he can score for the Cougars added 13 points for Charleston, who improve to 6-2 in the CAA and 12-8 overall. The Pride had four players in double figures with Buie leading the way with 19 points. Tareg Coburn drained five from long range for 16 points. Jalen Ray and Kante added 12 and 10 respectively. With the loss Hofstra fall to 14-6 on the season and 5-2 in the conference.
With the win, CofC swapped spots with Hofstra for second place in the league standings behind William & Mary (14-6, 6-1 CAA). The Cougars will close out their three-game conference homestand with a White Out Game scheduled against archrival UNCW on Saturday,Jan. 25 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