Cougars Surrender Lead In Final Minutes In Game One of Weekend Series
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Despite College of Charleston trailing by 10 points on one occasion in the first half, Saturday’s men’s basketball game against Northeastern was pretty evenly matched, with the contest tied 12 times, and 14 lead changes. But when the final buzzer rang, the Cougars came up short, falling 67-62 to the visitors, putting an end to CofC’s three game winning streak. With the loss Charleston fall to 5-7 overall and 3-2 in the CAA. The two teams meet again on Sunday.
The overall stats were near a carbon copy of each other, with both teams adding seven shots from beyond the arc. The one major difference was at the charity stripe where Northeastern made 18 of 26 attempts, with CofC making good on 7 of 13 tries from the foul line. The Huskies did win the battle on the boards as well, grabbing 41 to 35 rebounds.
The Cougars did hold a narrow lead late in the contest, but Head Coach Earl Grant said key errors cost CofC the game. “It’s just disappointing that in the last three minutes, we couldn’t make enough winning plays to find a way to win the game. They made the plays and we didn’t. They made a couple of big shots. We had a crucial turnover late, that led to a basket and one. We have to learn from those mistakes and bounce back in a quick turnaround.”
Brendan Tucker who is finding his game of recent lead three Cougars in double figures, finishing with a team high 17 points. Zep Jasper added 14 points, with DeAngelo Epps once again coming in off the bench, knocking down 3 of 4 from long range to add 11 points to the Cougar total.
Epps who is stepping up his game of late echoed Coach Grant’s remarks. “At the end, we didn’t capitalize on a couple of plays at the rim. We had a couple of chances at the rim, where we could have dumped it off to open players. But, we couldn’t connect on certain playsdown the stretch. We made the right plays, we just couldn’t connect.”
The home team trailed by one or two possessions for the first seven minutes of play. A jumper by Jasper tied the game at 16 all with 12:58 remaining. Less than two minutes later another jump shot by Jasper put CofC by four. But a 21-7 run by Northeastern put them up 37-27 with 1:50 remaining in the period. The Cougars found a little offense, trailing 37-33 at the break.
A 12-3 run by the Cougars to start the second half, capped off by a 3-pointer by Epps, gave Charleston a five point advantage after four and a half minutes went by. The lead would change several times with neither team up by more than one possession. A layup by Jasper gave CofC a 60-57 margin with 3:36 showing on the clock. But a 10-2 run by Northeastern including a 3-pointer and five from the line would seal the deal for the visitors.
With the game being ever so close, Coach Grant admitted several late game miscues that made the difference. “They (Northeastern) made the plays and we didn’t. It’s simple as that, especially in a close game. We did a great job of taking care of the ball for the game with just six turnovers, but three were in the last four minutes.”
He added, one or two plays could have scripted a different ending. “Again, we did not seize the opportunity. We were up two with two minutes to go. We were at the rim and turned the ball over and they made a basket. I thought that was big. There was one crucial defensive rebound, we didn’t get. They (Northeastern) kicked it out and made a three.
Tyson Walker lead Northeastern with a game best 20 points, with teammates Shaquille Walters and Jason Strong adding 13 apiece. The Huskie improve to 6-5 on the season and stay undefeated in CAA play at 5-0.
Game two of the weekend series between the Cougars and Huskies is scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday at TD Arena. Tickets are available for purchase online www.CofCSports.com/tickets
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