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Battle Of The Big Cats Goes To The Cougars



CofC Down Towson Tigers 90-88 In Double OT, Several Players Stepped Up At The Right Time

By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer

After two weeks off due to COVID protocols, the College of Charleston men’s basketball team returned to the hardcourt Saturday afternoon hosting CAA rival Towson. It was a battle of the big cats, with both team desperately needing a win. After 40 minutes and two five minute overtimes, with country singer Darius Rucker and his fellow golf buddy local restaurateur Mark Cumins (TBonz) among the 1500 fans, the Cougars came out on top, narrowly edging the Tigers 90-88 at TD Arena.

CofC improve to 6-8 overall, and move one game above .500 in the CAA at 4-3. With this new scheduling format due to the pandemic limiting travel, both teams will meet each other again on Sunday afternoon.

With six seconds remaining Brenden Tucker made one of two from the foul line for Charleston in the final overtime to give the home team a two point margin. In what ended up being a fast paced contest, Towson’s Jason Gibson had a clear 3-point shot from the corner that rimmed the basket, as the buzzer went off, allowing CofC to escape defeat. Fellow CofC team mate Cameron Copeland was the last second hero in regulation, with his 3-pointer as time expired allowing the home team to play on.

Tucker was one of five Cougars to finish in double figures. Charleston was lead by Zep Jasper matching a career best with 21 points, including two from long range. Payton Willis came up big when needed, draining 4 of 8 from beyond the arc for 17 points. Tucker,  Copeland, and Osinachi Smart each chipped in 10 points apiece. Smart hauled in a game high 13 rebounds for his second ever double double.

Charleston head coach Earl Grant said it took a full complement of players to squeak out the ‘W’. “Give our guys credit. They did what they needed to do today. We typically want to play nine guys and maybe even 10. We did that today and that was huge for us. A lot of different people stepped up and did good things. We needed everybody. We will need them again tomorrow.”

Towson’s Zane Martin lead all scorers and was pretty much un-stoppable from anywhere on the court. Martin finished with 12 of 23 from the floor, adding three from beyond the arc for 34 points. Charles Thompson and Nicolas Timberlake added 20 and 13 points respectively for the Tigers. Towson fall to 2-7 in the CAA, and 3-11 on the season.

Willis’ first 3-pointer gave Charleston a 7-6 lead after three minutes of play. A short jumper by Copeland gave the contest its third tie (11 all) with 12:46 remaining in the half. The Tigers were a bit more consistent during the next stretch, with an 8-2 run giving them a six point advantage.

Charleston had trouble from long range early on, making just 1 of 8, and going for more than five minutes without a basket. However a 19-10 run over the final seven minutes sandwiched between a Smart dunk and a Tucker 3-pointer, sent the Cougars into the locker room up 32-29 at the break.

A long range missile by Timberlake right out of the gate, tied the contest as the second half kicked into gear. When Jasper drained from beyond the arc with 16:03 showing, Charleston went up by six (42-36). But it was a game of spurts with the Tigers getting behind a 12-2 run to go up 50-44 with just over 12 minutes left on the clock.

CofC could not initially overcome the deficit, trailing by as many as eight (62-54) when Martin threw up a jumper with 6:56 showing. Two minutes later Charleston still trailed by six. When Jasper came up big from long range with 2:15 on the clock, the contest was knotted at 67 all.

The teams would trade baskets with Thompson connecting on two from the line to give the visitors a three point margin with seven ticks remaining. That paved the way for Copeland, who came up big for the Cougars, sending a nothing but net 3-pointer through with one second left, forcing the first overtime.

According to Copeland it all happened rather quickly. “Of course, it was a fast one and we were looking to get a layup in. I saw Payton dribble down the court. I thought he was going to take it all the way. But, he saw me. I looked at the clock and there was no time left. I just let it fly.”

Each team scored just six points apiece in the first extra period, with Willis’ 3-pointer with 49 seconds left securing a second overtime. Martin’s miss for the Tigers on the other end at the 32 second mark gave CofC one last chance, but Willis did not have the magic for the final shot. Willis and Jasper found some late game heroics during the second five minute period, with Tucker’s trip to the foul line helping the home team come out on top.

The final stats indicated an even match, however it was a tale of two halves for the Cougars. Shooting just 46 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes of play, Charleston went 14 of 28 in the second period, including 7 of 15 from downtown, improving on their 3 of 11 from long range in the opening period.

Coach Grant took note. “We started getting better shots (in the second half). We tried to drive it into the paint. Some of it was patience to take a great shot. In the second half, guys made timely plays.”

He added several players stepped up at the right moment. “In particular, Cam Copeland making that three at the end of regulation. We executed a play and we didn’t panic. The guys got it to Cam and he made a huge three. Payton Willis made a huge three late. Zep (Jasper) made a pull-up three. DeAngelo Epps took a charge. There were a lot of things that happened and I thought it was a total team effort.”

The rematch between the Cougars and Tigers will tip-off tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. Mobile tickets can purchased online at:

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