Cougars Score 52 In 2nd Half Including 19 From Galloway
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Entering into Thursday nights contest against Delaware, the College of Charleston was riding their worst slump of the 2019-20 season. Three weeks ago the Cougars were on a high, in position to take over first place in the CAA until a home loss to Elon triggered a four game losing streak including tough road defeats at Hofstra, Northeastern, and Wilmington, with the Cougars averaging under 60 points per game during the skid.
A win over the Blue Hens would go a long way in securing perhaps third or fourth place in the upcoming CAA Tournament to be held March 7-10 in Washington DC. Before 3700 plus avid fans at TD Arena, and a national television audience (CBS Sports Network), Charleston finally got the monkey off their back, pumping in 52 second half points.
Trailing 63-61 with 2:59 remaining in the contest Zep Jasper recorded a rare four point play that sparked a 19-8 run over the closing minutes as CofC went on to win 80-71. The Cougars improve to 16-13 overall and 10-7 in the conference. It marks the fourth straight season CofC have won at least 10 games in the CAA under head coach Earl Grant.
Even though they trailed most of the contest coach Grant knew his players had the potential to step it up. "We just kept chipping away. That's a good ballclub (Delaware). They've been winning games. We won at their place and we were playing well when we won at their place. They've been playing really well."
Averaging less than 60 points per game over the four game skid, Grant was happy with the outcome especially with Delaware coming in hot. "Scoring 80 points a game and they won seven in a row. We knew coming into the game, it would be a challenge. We kept chipping away and kept getting stops. We made some big shots in transition. Sometimes it just comes down to whether or not you are making some shots and we did that today."
After scoring just nine points in the first 20 minutes of play, Grant Riller finished with a game high 24 points, making 7 of 14 from the field and 8 of 12 from the line. He was one of three Cougars in double figures. Brevin Galloway who was scoreless in the first half shot lights out in the second, hitting 6 of 11 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc for 19 points. Sam Miller added four as well from long range to pump in 16 points for the Cougars.
With his time at TD Arena coming to an end, Riller was happy to put an end to the current losing streak. "It feels good. Obviously, we've been going through a rough patch for the last couple of weeks. We just kept grinding. Kept focusing on what we needed to focus on. The coaches do a good job of believing in us. We got a lot of guys who believe in each other. At end the end of the day, it just felt good to get a W in the column again."
Riller moved past Carlos Yates of George Mason (1981-85) for third all-time in the CAA record books in career scoring. Riller has now tabulated 2,423 career points to date. It marked his 16th 20-point game of the season. Riller trails all time CofC scorer Andrew Goudelock (2007-11) by 148 points. Goudelock's 2,571 points came while CofC played in the Southern Conference.
While Galloway's scoring has often been up and down, he was coming off a particularly bad game, thankful he could help spark the Cougars against Delaware. "I just tried to come out and be aggressive. Like G (Riller) said, the last few weeks have been tough, especially for me individually. Like he said, our teammates and our coaches believe in us. I just have to be myself out there on the court, and luckily, I was able to make some shots tonight."
Miller allowed Cougar fans to take their seats early connecting from 3-point land inside the first 20 seconds of play. But Delaware controlled the offense over the next seven minutes, up 11-7 with 12:49 left to play. A long range missile by DeAngelo Epps followed by Riller's first basket put the home team up 12-11.
When Miller drained his second 3-pointer, and Riller made one of two from the line, CofC held their biggest lead (22-17) in the first half with 7:37 showing on the clock. After the game was tied for a fifth time at 26 all, the Blue Hens would close out the final two minutes on a 5-2 run to take a three point lead into the locker room.
The second half didn't start out any better for Charleston. A 12-3 run by Delaware put the Blue Hens up 43-31 after only four minutes had ticked off the clock. CofC found themselves trailing by two and three possessions for the next 10 minutes. When the Cougars would cut the margin to just five points, Delaware would come back with a big dagger on offense.
Midway thru the period the visiting team once again extended their lead to 12 (54-42). With 6:31 on the clock Delaware held a 59-49 lead. That's when the Cougars began to dig themselves out of the hole. Five out of six 3-pointers including back to back by Miller and Galloway made it a one possession game (61-58) in favor of Delaware.
Less than two minutes later Jasper's long bomb from the corner followed by a free throw spurred his team and the crowd on, as they stepped up the defense and shut down the Blue Hens. Forced to foul CofC added an additional ten points from the charity stripe. With the loss Delaware falls to 20-10 on the season and 10-7 in the CAA, with Charleston sweeping both contests between the two teams this season.
The Blue Hens had balanced scoring with four players in double figures. Justyn Mutts and Nate Darling lead Delaware with 18 points apiece. Mutts was 6 of 8 on the night, with Darling hitting two from beyond the arc. Mutts grabbed a game high 11 boards as well. Ryan Allen and Kevin Anderson finished with 12 and 11 points respectively. In some of the key stats Delaware outpaced Charleston, grabbing 38 rebounds to CofC's 24. Delaware made 25 of 29 from the line, but the turnover ratio 12 to 5 no doubt hurt the Blue Hens.
Coach Grant said during the down turn he did his best to keep the players positive. "I am really happy we got a win. We have been through a tough patch the last 12 days. Obviously, there were a lot of conversations between me and my players about, 'in life, tough things happen, adversity happens, but how does a man respond?' I am really happy that we were able to respond. We haven't really been through a lot of tough things. Things have been going well for us. We win a lot of games."
Grant added the crowd played a integral part in carrying the Cougars to victory on Thursday night. "I think our fans helped us again. Our fans have been amazing this year. Gave us great energy. I was glad during Senior Week, we were able to have a positive outcome."
Charleston will close out the regular season at home against Drexel (13-17, 6-11 CAA) on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 4 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. The Senior Day pre-game ceremony will start at 3:45 p.m. Tickets can still be purchased by calling (843) 953-COFC or online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets