Riller Adds 24 In 2nd Half, Leads Five Players in Double Figures
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
The College of Charleston men’s basketball team pick up their fourth win in a row, and remain undefeated in the CAA, after downing Towson 81-69 in front of 3300 plus fans at TD Arena Thursday night. With just four points at the half, Grant Riller found his groove in the second period, finishing with a game high 28 points. He was one of five CofC players in double figures. With the victory CofC improve to 9-6 overall and 3-0 in league play.
The contest had all the makings of a big cat fight between the Cougars and the Tigers. While CofC went up by as many as 11 points in the first half, Towson would not go down quietly, rallying on several occasions to keep within a possession or two. With five minutes left in the game it could have gone either way, but the Cougars found an extra measure of offense putting some distance between the two CAA rivals. Towson fall to 0-3 in the CAA and 6-9 for the season.
CofC Head Coach Earl Grant said the team played a complete game with just a few miscues. “I really thought the guys played hard and played well. We played 40 minutes with only two turnovers and we had five guys in double figures. Pretty impressive. I thought our unselfishness and our ability to work together and be in concert with each other was great. Towson presents an unbelievable challenge the way they rebound the ball. I thought we got the stops that we needed and the crucial rebounds when we needed it.”
A missed shot by Riller lead to a tip in by Sam Miller as the Cougars were off and running. But the offense fizzled on both sides with the score knotted at four all at the first media time out. Riller’s first basket gave CofC a 10-8 lead. Back to back 3-point buckets by Brevin Galloway gave the home team a 16-8 advantage. When Jaylen McManus scored three the hard way the Cougars enjoyed a 23-12 lead with 8:37 left in the first half. The Tigers would rally, trailing just 35-29 at the break.
Going just 2 of 9 from the floor in the first half, Riller found his rhythm after intermission finishing the contest 9 of 21, including 3 of 6 from beyond the arc. The senior guard said he was just out of sorts and refocused during the second half. “Early on, I was kind of playing out of character. Trying to force a lot of tough shots and I got into the paint instead of finding the open guys. I think once the game progressed, I kind of let it come to me a little bit. Shots started to fall and I took better shots.”
Towson wasn’t about to let the contest get out of hand, keeping within range for most of the second half. After Miller made a layup to start the second half, the Tigers put together a 12-3 run to take the lead (41-40) with less than four minutes gone in the half. Midway thru the period the game was tied for a 10th time (50 all). A long 3-pointer from the corner by McManus put the Cougs up by nine with just over four minutes to play. They quickly extended the lead to double digits, up by 15 points (78-63) with just 43 seconds on the game clock. The Cougars finished the contest at the foul line, where they were 23 of 28 for the game.
CofC’s Zep Jasper did most of his offensive damage from the free throw line, making good on 10 of 10 finishing with 12 points. Galloway made three from long range to help with his 11 points, with McManus adding 10.
Miller who has improved, especially since becoming a starter four games back tied his career best with 16 points, just missing a double double with nine rebounds. The senior forward said he and his team mates are coming into their own offensively. “It’s starting to show how much talent we have on the offensive end. We’ve known for a while, we can put five guys out there on the floor that can make a three. That’s a big deal in our conference, not a lot of teams can do that. It’s starting to show.”
The Tigers had three players finish in double figures with Nakye Sanders leading Towson with 20 points including 9 of 9 from the line. Allen Betrand went 4 of 8 from long range to pump in 19 points, with Brian Fobbs adding 12 points. Towson had 23 attempts from the foul line making good on 20 attempts. Aside from their eight turnovers, Towson’s stats were in line with CofC.
Coach Grant said there is one key to closing out games. “It’s always going to start with the defense. We got up six or eight points in the first half. We came out of the locker room, they (Towson) made a run and tied the game pretty quickly. We had to re-establish our defense. There was a patch where we only scored five or six points.”
Coach added distribution of the ball made a big difference in the second half. “Our offense started to come together. We started making more threes. In the first half, we made two threes, and in the second half, we made six. I thought we did a good job of getting it in the paint and kicking it out to our teammates, trying to be really unselfish.”
Charleston prepares for a quick turnaround as it plays host to James Madison (8-6, 1-2 CAA) on Saturday, Jan. 4 at 4 p.m. (ET)at TD Arena. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (843) 953-COFC or online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets