Despite Holding Lead Late in Game, Cougars Drop 2nd Game to Huskies
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Despite scoring 46 second half points the College of Charleston men’s basketball team suffered from a dose of ‘Groundhog Day’ re-living the same outcome they did 24 hours earlier, surrendering a late game lead, falling to Northeastern 68-66 on Sunday afternoon at TD Arena. Up by six points with 5:52 remaining, the Cougars couldn’t close out the contest, turning the ball over a couple of times, combined with missed opportunities at the foul line, allowing the Huskies to remain unbeaten in CAA play, leaving CofC with back to back nail biting losses.
Although he missed a couple from the foul line during the closing minutes, Brenden Tucker was once again the offensive powerhouse for the Cougars, finishing with a game best 20 points. Scoreless in the first half, Payton Willis kicked into high gear after the break adding 10 points, with Zep Jasper getting hot near the end of the contest closing out with 10 points as well. With the loss CofC fall to 5-8 overall and 3-3 in the conference.
Tied at 66 all with 50 seconds remaining Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant called a time out. After Tucker missed missed a jumper, Northeastern scored with 15 seconds left. Several failed attempts by Charleston in the closing seconds left Grant disappointed with the final outcome.
“I wasn’t happy with how it unfolded. Obviously, we work on late-game situations. We had a play call. Certainly, we didn’t execute it the way we needed to, so our execution wasn’t good. In those situations, sometimes you call a timeout and you feel good about the decision and sometimes you don’t. Obviously, we have to go back and work on our late-game situations.”
After going 1 of 8 from the floor, down 11-2 inside five minutes of play, Tucker drove the baseline for a layup, adding one from the line that sparked a 12-6 rally making it 17-14 with a little less than 7 minutes before the half. Shooting just 30 percent during that stretch, it was Northeastern’s five turnovers that kept Charleston within striking distance.
However a 17-6 offensive barrage by the Huskies, gave Northeastern a comfortable 34-20 margin at the break. CofC headed into the locker room shooting just 29 percent, making just one of nine attempts from long range.
As they say, it was a tale of two halves, as the much needed offense the Cougars were looking found its way into the second half. A 22-6 run by the home team capped off by a jumper by Willis, gave Charleston their first lead (42-40) of the contest, with a full 13 minutes to play. Two minutes later a trey by DeAngelo Epps matched CofC’s largest lead (49-42) on the afternoon.
As another five minutes came off the clock, each team added 10 points providing Charleston a 59-52 lead with 6:41 showing on the clock. But a dunk by Jahmyl Telfort capped off a 12-4 rally by the Huskies, with them regaining the lead with under three minutes left. A dunk on the other end by Osinachi Smart put the Cougars up 66-64 with 1:19 remaining, before Shaquille Walters tied it 20 seconds later.
After Tucker missed for the Cougars, Chris Doherty grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up giving Northeastern a two point advantage with 15 seconds on the clock. A couple of missed attempts in the paint for Charleston failed as Doherty grabbed the final board as time expired, leaving the home town fans shaken after back to back last minute losses.
Accounting for 46 second half points Jasper said he and his team mates had to re-focus. “We knew the first half was a bump in the road. We came into the locker room and talked about coming out strong and being ready. We knew the first five minutes would be crucial going into the second half. We knew we had to get stops. They were going to be key in the game. If we got stops, we knew we could get back into the game. We would get some flow.”
The final stats resembled a game that went down to the wire, with Northeastern making good on 10 of 21 from long range, with CofC making 6 of 17 3-pointers. Telfort came in off the bench to lead the Huskies with 16 points, with Walters and Tyson Walker pumping in 15 and 10 respectively. With the win Northeastern improve to 7-5 overall and stay unbeaten in the CAA at 6-0.
Despite being down 14 at the half, the Cougars did show grit in the second half, with Coach Grant taking note. “I credit our guys showing some toughness and resiliency today. We were down 14 points and really worked hard to get back into the game and took the lead. We showed a lot of character.”
Grant did give the Huskies their due. “You just have to give credit to Northeastern in the last four minutes. Another game where we were up and they closed the game. They made some difficult shots. We had a breakdown or two on defense. They had very good possession where guys made some shots.”
The Cougars will embark on a two-week CAA road swing with their first stop at William & Mary (4-6, 2-3 CAA) for a weekend series on Saturday, Jan. 23, and Sunday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. (ET) on both days in Williamsburg, Va. Both games will be televised on FloSports.
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