Zep Jasper Sets Career Best With Game High 38 Points For CofC
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
Fortunately it was a tale of two halves for the College of Charleston men’s basketball team on Saturday afternoon. After trailing by 10 points at the break, CofC outscored visiting Columbus State University Cougars by 10 to force overtime, where the hometown Cougars held on for an 86-83 victory.
While Zep Jasper has risen to the task offensively on several occasions this season, we was on fire Saturday afternoon. The junior guard shot lights out, making 13 of 18 from the floor, adding 4 of 7 from long range, and 8 of 9 from the foul line, finishing with a game high and career best 38 points for the Cougars. Payton Willis added 16 points for CofC who improve to 9-9 on the season and hold steady at 6-4 in the CAA.
Jasper said he’s been honing his game of late. “What was clicking for me today? I came into the game with confidence. Everything I worked on in workouts and late night, I perfected it going out there. I didn’t take their team lightly. Give hats off to Columbus State for their players playing hard. It was a big game for them. I knew coming into this game, I had to play hard. No let ups.”
Charleston head coach Earl Grant has nothing but confidence in his star player. “Zep is our quarterback. He is our point guard. That’s what you envision as a head coach. You want to coach a confident guy at the point. Somebody that is experienced and somebody that is tough. Zep is all of that. He had an unbelievable game. I’m glad he’s on our team. It’s really good to see him have that kind of success and it’s something he can build on.”
With Charleston’s out of town weekend series against Hofstra cancelled due to COVID protocols, and CSU’s next two scheduled contests postponed as well, CSU made the five hour trip from Columbus to Charleston to take on CofC. CSU brought a one game win streak to TD Arena, after edging Lander University 70-69 on Feb 15th.
CSU would control the early tempo of the game, up by as many as six points in the opening minutes. When DeAngelo Epps connected on a pair from the foul line for CofC, it was tied at 13 apiece with 13 minutes remaining in the half. A 29-19 run by CSU would allow the visiting Cougars to head into the locker room up 42-32 at the break.
Try as they might, Charleston had a hard time cutting into the margin as the second half unfolded. A layup by CSU’s Christian Chambers still had the out of towners up 63-52 past the midway mark. When Preston Hunter hit from downtown CSU held a 66-56 advantage with 7:52 showing on the clock.
Charleston would slowly chip away at the lead, putting together a 21-11 run over the final seven minutes, with Jasper nailing two from the line with three seconds remaining to force the extra period.
Down by two possessions as the game was coming to a close Coach Grant had a game plan. “Everything had to go right. About 30 seconds left and we were down five. We didn’t want to foul right away. We wanted to try to steal the ball. We were able to turn them over once or twice. Then we fouled certain shooters that we knew their (shooting) percentages and that they may not make them (free throws).
After stepping up on defense Coach Grant knew who to go to for offense. “Then, we put the ball in Zep Jasper’s hand. He made some big plays. We knew we needed to get to the free throw line, so the clock could stop. We did a good job of executing late and finding a way to win.”
While CSU went up first in OT, it was the foul line that saved the home town team, especially three straight from Epps. A couple by Jasper put CofC up by three with 2:05 left. Willis would make one of two from the line for the final score with 13 seconds showing, with CSU’s Kalen Clifton missing from 3-point land as time was expiring.
Hunter Preston lead CSU with 19 points, making good on 8 of 15 from the floor, adding three from beyond the arc. Clifton went 6 of 12 with two from long range for 14 points. Chambers and Moore added 12 and 11 points each for the visiting Cougars. Moore was all around the glass, hauling in a game best 14 rebounds.
The final stats were pretty much even with the lone exception coming from the charity stripe. Charleston connected on 25 of 32 attempts from the line for 78 percent, with CSU making 10 of 17 tries for 58 percent. CSU did win the offensive battle underneath, outscoring CofC 40-24 in the paint. With the loss CSU fall to 5-7 overall and remain 5-6 in the Peach Belt Conference.
The Cougars will close out the CAA regular season this week with UNCW (7-8, 1-5 CAA). The first meeting will be played on the road at Wilmington on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. (ET) and second on Senior Day to be held on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 4 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena.
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