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CofC Fall To Pre-Season Favorite Northeastern 69-60

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17 Turnovers By Cougars Lead To 15 Pts. For NU

By Jeff Walker, Sports Writer

The first stop on the road trip for the College of Charleston men’s basketball team didn’t prove favorable, as the Cougars fell to pre-season CAA favorite Northeastern 69-60 Thursday night. The Huskies were no doubt trying to avenge four straight losses to the Cougars including the epic come from behind win by CofC in the
CAA Tournament Championship contest last season at the North Charleston Coliseum.

Tied at 23 at the half NU shot 68 percent in the second 20 minutes of action, making good of 3 of 7 from long range to outdistance themselves from CofC. What did the Cougars in was 17 turnovers that lead to 15 points for the home team. Grant Riller scored a team best 17 points with Jarrell Brantley pumping in 13 points as Charleston fall to 14-5 overall and 3-3 in league play.

CofC Head Coach Earl Grant admitted despite strong defense early on miscues did the Cougars in. “In the first half, we played great basketball in terms of defensively. Doing what we wanted to do and taking them (NU) out of their game plan. We held them to 23 points, 23 points was with them converting on some of our turnovers. We had 10 turnovers in the first half and we still only gave up 23 points. We played hard and with a lot of energy in the first half.”

Grant added NU took advantage of Charleston’s weaknesses. “17 turnovers in the game. Certainly, it is hard to win that way. We knew they were going to do different things. When we threw the ball into the post, we talked about being patient. We didn’t do a good job against the post trap by getting it out of there. Some of it led to offense.”

The Cougars looked as though they were on the brink of a high scoring first half, up 10-4 after a little more than four minutes of play. When Sam Miller connected from beyond the arc CofC held a 15-8 advantage with 12:32 remaining on the clock. But Charleston went cold over the next four minutes as the Huskies put together a 15-8 run that knotted the contest at 23 all heading into the locker room.

The second half didn’t start well for the Cougars. NU came out on fire including a 16-0 run providing the home team a comfortable 45-29 lead with 13:01 left to play. CofC would cut the lead to five points on two separate occasions, the second time on a layup by Jaylen Richard making it 63-58 with 1:30 remaining. But the host team held tight with Vasa Busica adding four points from the foul line in the closing minute to secure a win for the Huskies.

Busica would lead all scorers with a game best 21 points including 6 of 8 from the field and a perfect 8 of 8 from the charity stripe. Bolden Brace and Shawn Occeous had 14 and 12 points respectively for the Huskies. Northeastern improve to 4-2 in the CAA and 10-8 on the season.

Marquise Pointer who continues to find his groove after being out the first half of the season added 8 points for the Cougars including two from long range. CofC got decent points off the bench with Richard finishing with 9 points for the Cougars. In 22 minutes of play Miller had 8 points, hitting 3 of 6 from the field with one from beyond the arc.

Coach Grant was pleased with his bench players. “Both of them did some good things tonight. This team is one that we are trying to find a way to continue to develop and grow. Certainly, Sam Miller played a good game tonight. Twenty-two minutes was the most he played all year. Jaylen Richard gave us a good lift off the bench. We need them to continue to develop, so we can reach our full potential.”

The contest with NU was the first meeting this season between the preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the league. The Cougars have little time to lament their loss with another strong opponent scheduled this weekend. The Cougars will face another big test in unbeaten Hofstra (16-3, 6-0 CAA) on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. (ET) in Hempstead, N.Y.

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