Jasper's Three From The Foul Line Lift Cougars To Victory in Final Second
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Coming off a split decision over Delaware in their first CAA road trip last weekend, the College of Charleston men's basketball team earn their first win over Drexel in the new two game weekend format set in place by the league. On their home court on Saturday afternoon the Cougars slayed the Dragons 61-60, rallying late, to pull out the victory on a last second nail biter.
Zep Jasper who finished with 10 points, drained three from the foul line with less than one second remaining to lift the Cougars from a two point deficit for the win.
Payton Willis lead all scorers with 22 points for the Cougars. Willis turned in a pretty solid performance, making good on 9 of 13 from the field, adding 3 of 5 from long range. Cameron Copeland notched is second straight double figure game, coming off the bench to add 11 points, making 5 of 6 from the floor. With the victory, Charleston improve to 4-6 overall and 2-1 in the CAA.
During a time out prior to Jasper's game winning shots, Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant said, the team designed several scenarios to score. "We had about three different options in there. That just happened to be the option that presented itself. Cam Copeland, the in-bounder, just did a good job of having poise, reading his options and delivered the pass. I was very happy that we got that shot off and things went our way."
At the onset of the contest it looked bleak for the home team. Aside from two free throws, the Cougars came up empty in the first seven minutes of play, as Drexel built a double digit lead. Five unanswered by Willis narrowed the margin to 17-10 near the midway point. Moments later a long range bomb by DeAngelo Epps brought the home team within one possession.
But a 7-0 run by the Dragaons extended their lead to 10, before CofC put together their own 9-0 run to come within one point (25-24). On the cusp of taking the lead, Drexel found some late period offense, taking a five point (36-31) margin into the locker room at the break.
Charleston brought some game at the start of the second half. A 8-0 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Willis put the Cougs up 39-36, giving them their first lead on the afternoon. Both teams would exchange baskets and the lead, with another trey by Jasper tying the contest at 52 all with
The visitors maintained a one or two possession lead during the closing minutes until Charleston put together some late game mojo with the clock winding down, allowing Jasper to be the last second hero.
The junior guard admitted he tried to stay focused and feed off the excitement of a smaller crowd. "I'm kinda more relaxed when I hear a lot of noise. It gets me poised and gives me confidence. I feel like everybody is on my side when I hear everyone screaming and everybody going for us. I knew those three free throws would go down with the home team and crowd behind us."
With the game tied seven times, and seven lead changes, Charleston only held the lead for just over five minutes in the contest. Charleston's biggest lead was just three points, trailing by as many as 11 after six minutes in the first half, yet they hung around and edged out the win.
The victory avenged a similar outcome that happened back on Jan. 10, 2019, when the Dragons snapped the Cougars' 22-game home winning streak as Troy Harper was fouled with 1.1 seconds left and scored three-straight free throws to secure the 79-78 victory at TD Arena. The Dragons were lead by James Butler with 20 points, with Zach Walton and T.J. Bickerstaff chipping in 12 and 11 apiece. Drexel fall to 5-3 overall and 0-1 in the CAA. Their first weekend series was postponed.
Coach Grant said the Cougars had to battle the entire 40 minutes "It was a dog fight. Drexel presented good challenges with some of the players they have. I am really happy our players showed great fortitude and toughness. I thought we executed our game plan really well, especially in the second half. Give our players a lot of credit. It was a challenge. In the end, we were very fortunate."
The Cougars and Dragons will go at it again in Sunday's rematch slated for 1 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena.