The College of Charleston men’s basketball team matched their best start since 2011-12 season (6-2) with their 77-73 victory over ECU.
ECU’s zone defense proved no match in the early going. After missing their previous game with an ankle injury, Jarrell Brantley scored the first six points of the game to help the Cougars open up an early double-digit lead (12-1).
Cameron Johnson led the team with 8 points and 7 rebounds in the first half, propelling the Cougars to a 37-21 lead headed into the break.
“I was really worried about the zone,” Head coach Earl Grant revealed after the game. “We hadn’t played against any zone since the Navy game… The guys did a great job of getting the ball in the soft spots in the zone and they were really unselfish looking finding their teammates.”
Charleston led 62-44 with 6:30 remaining, however, ECU proved resilient late. B.J. Tyson and Kentrell Barkley led a furious late comeback, scoring 28 of their 39 points in the second half.
A 3-pointer from Tyson with 52 seconds remaining cut Charleston’s lead to 72-69. But when ECU’s only shot at the tie rimmed out, Canyon Barry’s clutch free throws proved to be the nail in the coffin.
Barry scored 13 of his team-high 27 points on the night from the free throw stripe (13-14), improving his free throw percentage on the season to the second best in the CAA (86.8%).
“He did a great job at the free throw line,” Grant said. “We knew who we wanted to get it to, so we ran him off some different stuff and he did a great job of attacking the basket.”
The victory marks the Cougars fourth straight, having previously defeated Western Carolina, LSU and The Citadel.
Their win at The Citadel (82-74) marked the ninth straight win for the College in the crosstown rivalry.
Though the College trailed 72-68 with 3:45 remaining, they showed their resiliency and closed the game on a 14-2 run. Their late game defensive prowess was particularly impressive because The Citadel boasts the highest scoring offense in the nation, at 94.1 points per game.
“That’s something we’ve been trying to do over the last 14 months since I took over, that’s finish better. With four minutes to go in the game I told the guys, if we can find a way to get consecutive stops, then we can win the game. So it was good to see them get consecutive stops and finish the game.”
The College will look to extend their win streak when they host North Greenville at the TD Arena on Sun., Dec. 13 (3 p.m.).