As Grant Riller and Jarrell Brantley sat down in the media room at TD Arena, a group of College of Charleston fans walking down Burns Alley began to bang on the window to get their attention.
Riller and Brantley gave the fans a wave and a thumbs-up as the postgame press conference got underway.
It was good to be a winner again.
Riller finished with 21 points and Brantley had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead College of Charleston past Delaware 71-58 Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 4,320 at TD Arena.
The Cougars snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 14-4 overall and 3-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Blue Hens dropped to 12-7 and 4-2.
After dropping back-to-back games to James Madison on the road and then to Drexel – ending the Cougars’ 22-game win streak – Brantley said the Cougars just wanted to get back to playing the way they had earlier in the season.
“I think this was the first time we played a complete game in a while,” said Brantley, who recorded his fifth double-double of the season. “It was good to get a win again. It wasn’t so much the losses, it was the way we lost. We were not playing Charleston basketball. That was the toughest part to handle for us. I’m sure it was tough for our fans to watch. I think we’re getting back to where we are playing together and playing as a family. When we focus on that, I don’t think anything else will really matter.”
Before the season began, College of Charleston coach Earl Grant warned his team they’d face some adversity along the way. Grant was pleased with the way the Cougars responded, especially after losing on a last-second play to Drexel on Thursday night in a game they had under control until the final moments.
“We hadn’t faced any adversity this season because we’d won so many games,” Grant said. “We finally faced some adversity in the last five to seven days, and I thought the players showed a lot of character. We beat ourselves in one of those games, so to be able to bounce back after watching the last game and seeing our mistakes, I thought it was a good sign of the character we have in our locker room, and that’s a good thing to know.”
The Cougars looked like they were going to rout the Blue Hens early, making nine of the first 10 shots from the floor and opening a double-digit lead.
“We try to come out and be aggressive every game,” Riller said. “I think that maybe we used what had happened to us the last couple of games as motivation.”
- The Cougars gave up 79 points to Drexel on Thursday and 69 points, including a 41-point half, to James Madison in the previous game.
The message going into Saturday’s game against Delaware was to be more consistent on the defensive end of the floor.
Delaware’s 58 points were the second-fewest for the Blue Hens this season.
“It’s been a while since we’ve played defense like that for 40 minutes,” Brantley said.
- Late turnovers. The Cougars lead the CAA, averaging just 10.3 turnovers a game. And through the first 35 minutes of the game, the Cougars had just eight.
When Delaware went to its full-court press in the final minutes, the Cougars turned the ball over on four of five possessions.
“It’s all correctable, which is a good thing,” Grant said. “We’d been over that recently, so it was a little disappointing to see us make the same mistakes. It’s something we’ll continue to work on.”
The Cougars face their toughest road trip next week as they travel to Northeastern (Thursday) and first-place Hofstra on Saturday. Five of the Cougars' first seven CAA games have come on the road.