Entering the CAA tournament, the College of Charleston men’s basketball team had much to prove as the host team and the #1 seed.
They faced off against the #8 team, the Drexel Dragons.
After such an exceptional regular season, it was expected that the team would come out fired up and ready to continue racking up W’s.
In the first half, however, Drexel had other plans. The Dragons held the College to 41% shooting in that time, including 20% from three-point land.
The majority of the College’s first-half scoring came from the team’s two CAA first-teamers, Grant Riller and Joe Chealey, who combined for 17 of the 30 Cougar points. Another 6 were added in by CAA second-teamer, Jarrell Brantley.
Despite the offense not playing like their usual dominant selves, the Cougar defense scratched and clawed to keep the squad in the mix going into halftime.
The College’s defense held Drexel to 34% shooting in the first, including an abysmal 12% from deep.
The Cougars entered halftime with a narrow lead of 30-27.
The College wasn’t able to jump out to a big lead primarily due to the disparity of rebounding, as Drexel grabbed 24 rebounds while the College only managed to secure 19.
Come time for the second half, the College of Charleston made sure to right the ship and capitalize on open looks.
After shooting so poorly from three-point territory in the first half, the team corrected their mistakes and converted five of their nine looks from deep over the last 20 minutes of play.
Despite the Cougars’ newfound shooting efficiency, they failed to grab the lead early in the second. Drexel came out for the second half fired up and proceeded to lead for the majority of the period.
Although the team fell behind by nine points halfway through the second half, they never gave up and fought back to eventually lead by nine, with just 20 seconds to go.
This resurgence was spearheaded by senior stud, Joe Chealey.
Chealey hit tough shot after tough shot, as he prolonged his Cougar career by at least one more game.
The College managed to grab the lead back and hold onto it until the final buzzer by taking and making open, quality shots and by rebounding the heck out of the ball.
The College of Charleston men’s basketball team defeated Drexel by a final score of 66-59.
After trailing in the rebounding department by five at halftime, the Cougars finished the game with their own five-rebound lead over their opponent.
This huge win to start off the CAA tournament was primarily thanks to the play of Chealey, Riller, and Brantley.
Chealey finished with a game-high 22 points, 18 of which came after halftime.
Riller led the way in the first half and finished the game with 17 points of his own.
Brantley recorded yet another double-double, with 12 points and team-high 11 rebounds.
If the College of Charleston wants to secure a CAA championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney, they must receive more play of this caliber from their all-conference athletes.
In order to proceed to the conference championship game, the Cougars must defeat the #4 seed, William & Mary.
William & Mary, despite their middle-of-the-pack seed, is certainly a tough out for the College.
William & Mary is the last team to beat the Cougars, as they defeated the team just a few weeks ago in an overtime thriller to snap the College’s 11-game winning streak.
The College of Charleston looks to continue to assert their conference dominance in their next game on Monday evening when they will look to avenge their most recent loss to William & Mary.
The showdown will occur at 6:00 P.M. tomorrow night at the North Charleston Coliseum.