The College of Charleston men’s basketball team just simply will not allow this season to end quietly.
After yet another neck-and-neck CAA playoff game, this is clearer than ever.
In yet another “unofficial” home game, the Cougars secured the critical W to keep NCAA tournament hopes alive.
This win was not the easiest to come by, despite the final score inferring otherwise.
The first half featured a back and forth battle between star performers from each team. It seemed as though Cougar standout Grant Riller and William & Mary stud Nathan Knight would trade buckets forever, as they totaled 17 and 18 points this half, respectively.
Scoring totals certainly weren’t the only things eerily similar between the two teams in the first period.
In the game’s opening half, each team had identical rebound and assist totals, of 17 and eight.
The most notable difference between the squads at halftime was the score, which featured a five-point Charleston lead. Going into the half, the College of Charleston led the Tribe 39-34.
Despite holding onto a narrow lead before the break, the College was far from in control of the game. In the first, William & Mary shot significantly better from the field (50%) and from three-point territory (45.5%) than the Cougars. (42.9% and 31.6%)
Thanks to their volume of shooting, the College remained optimistic as they managed to launch nine more field goal attempts in the first half.
Following yet another typical Grant Riller first half, where he scored 17 of the team’s 39 points, it was encouraging to see the team carry the bulk of the scoring load to start the second.
Riller was held scoreless in the second half for a solid eight minutes until he found his way back into the scoring column.
In that eight-minute drought, excellent play from the rest of the starting unit allowed the College to continue to hold tight to the lead.
The Cougars never relinquished their lead once in the final half of play.
Key plays were made down this stretch by seemingly the entire roster, as the team seemed to will out this win collectively.
Sixth man Marquise Pointer had his best game of the season, chipping in 10 points of his own in the second half on 3-3 shooting. He also notched a team-high five assists and four rebounds.
CAA all-defensive team member Cameron Johnson also made his presence felt, as he fronted Nathan Knight on two separate occasions off the pick and roll, both of which resulted in Charleston steals. He also added five points in the second half without missing a shot.
The starting backcourt of Grant Riller and Joe Chealey made a significant impact on the outcome of the score, per usual. The dynamic duo combined for 16 second-half points, many of which came in the final few minutes.
All of this being said, the key performer of the night was Jarrell Brantley. Brantley notched yet another double-double on the season with 14 points and a team-high 10 boards.
The CAA second-team member put a seal on this game, effectively sending the Cougars onto the championship match as the game winded to an end.
With under a minute left, Brantley took control with a key sequence of a bone-shattering block and a gravity-defying dunk.
As the North Charleston Coliseum erupted into cheers of excitement, it was clear that this team had its eyes set on one thing and one thing only — a CAA championship trophy.
If this team wants to redeem last year’s crushing CAA title game loss, there is no better opportunity than the one that awaits them.
In Tuesday evening’s title match, the Cougars will have a chance to prove their worth and make sure the trophy remains in Charleston. The College takes on #2 seed Northeastern at 7:00 in their biggest game of the season.