This past Thursday, the College of Charleston men’s basketball team faced their biggest test of the season: the CAA’s #2 team, William & Mary.
Leading up to this game, the Cougars knew it would be a playoff-like atmosphere, with the #1 spot in the rankings on the line.
To start the game off, both teams struggled to find consistency getting stops on defense, as both the Cougars and the Tribe traded buckets early in the first.
On the night of his birthday, Sophomore guard Grant Riller started off the game in a dominant fashion, scoring 28 of his career-high 37 points in the game’s opening period.
Riller carried a bulk of the load for the College’s offense in that half, as he and Jarrell Brantley combined to score 36 of the 41 first-half points for the Cougars.
The William & Mary Tribe had 41 points of their own at the end of the opening half, setting up the game for a fresh start come halftime.
As the Tribe force-fed the ball down low to start the second period, the Cougars recognized they needed to diversify their scoring beyond Riller in order to match the pace of the game.
Jarrell got his offense going a bit more, chipping in 11 more points, while Cameron Johnson added 10 of his own merit.
Riller remained a constant factor in this time, pouring in 9 more. As the team dispersed the scoring role, they came back to their leader for the night, Riller, in the game’s waning moments.
The game’s biggest shot, a 3 to give the Cougars a two-possession cushion, came from Riller with around 1:00 left.
In a game that holds serious implications come playoff time, it was incredible to see a key contributor carry the load for the night.
In most games this season, the scoring has needed to come from across the board, so it was encouraging to be reminded that an individual player on this team could rise up and put on a one-man show.
With this win, the Cougars solidify their #1 ranking in the conference, while also pushing back their closest competitor.
A pivotal win like this could serve as a sort of litmus test for the squad as the playoffs draw closer.
This was the team’s second to last game at home this season, where they remain undefeated on the year.
The College looks to finish the perfect home season on Saturday night, as they face off against conference opponent Drexel for homecoming.