Coach Grant Says Total Team Effort Secured Victory
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
The College of Charleston men's basketball team get back to .500 on the season, improving to 8-8 overall after downing CAA opponent 71-53 Saturday afternoon at TD Arena. After taking the lead midway through the opening period, the Cougars never trailed, going up by as many as 30 points, maintaining a double digit lead for most of the contest.
Despite falling behind early, Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant was pleased the team found their rhythm. "I was just proud of the energy and effort the guys played with today. They (Elon) hit us with a blow and we got down 10-2. We made some subs and our bench really came in and gave us some life. It was a total team effort."
Zep Jasper lead the Cougar attack finishing with a game high 16 points, including 4 of 9 from beyond the arc. Brenden Tucker and Dontavius King added 11 and 10 respectively. Cameron Copeland who came in off the bench, getting over 19 minutes of playing time chipped in nine points for the home team. CofC move to 6-3 in the league, as they again host Elon 1pm Sunday.
The Cougars hope to extend their three game win streak to four. According to Tucker it's all about preparation. "I think it first starts in practice. Guys coming into practice and working hard every day. We just stay locked in until it's game time. Playing hard for 40 minutes."
The Phoenix wasted little time after the tip-off, following a missed shot with a layup, followed by a 3-pointer by Ikenna Ndugba to take a 5-0 lead inside two minutes of play. Shooting just 1 of 8 early on the Cougars soon found themselves down by eight points. However a 15-0 run by Charleston provided them a 17-10 lead with.
Elon would answer with back to back threes to make it 17-16 before CofC went on an offensive blitz, closing out the first half on a 24-4 run, allowing for a comfortable 41-20 lead heading into the locker room. Making 8 of 17 from long range, as well as a 12 to 1 turnover ratio, including nine steals helped the hometeam pad the lead at the break.
Jasper continued the 3-point barrage after intermission, with most of the second half belonging to Charleston. After going up by as many as 30 ( ), Elon was able to outpace the Cougars late in the contest, cutting into the advantage to 21 points a couple of times, as 12 CofC players saw action. When King threw down a feracious dunk CofC lead 67-42 with less than five minutes showing on the clock.
According to Grant it took the right complement of players to get things going, ultimately securing a victory. "We had guys subbing in-and-out of the game, really working hard and playing with a lot of energy. I was proud that we were unselfish and shared the ball. We took care of the ball against changing defenses. I am happy we got the win."
Darius Burford lead the Phoenix, adding 2 of 3 from long distance for 15 points. Ndugba chipped in 12 points with six from downtown. Michael Graham went 3 of 4 from the floor off the bench for Elon to add 9 points. With the loss the Phoenix fall to 3-8 on the season and remain winless in the CAA at 0-7.
Aside from a 40-35 rebounding margin, the final stats favored Charleston, with CofC causing 17 turnovers, while giving up the ball just seven times. The Cougars managed to steal the ball 11 times, while surrendering it just twice. While CofC scored 36 points from long range, they did lead in points scored in the paint as well, taking a 20 to 12 advantage.
Both teams will lace it up tomorrow with the second game of the weekend series slated for 1 p.m. (ET) on Valentine's Day. Mobile tickets can be purchased online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets