College of Charleston coach Earl Grant has preached all season that the results of a individual game don’t matter much to him.
It’s about the process. It’s about building a successful program. It’s about standards and not about winning and losing.
But it’s hard to ignore what Grant and the Cougars have accomplished this season under adverse circumstances.
Cameron Johnson scored 16 points and Jarrell Brantley added 11 points to lead College of Charleston past Drexel, 60-38, Saturday afternoon before a homecoming crowd of 3,456 at TD Arena.
A year removed from a 9-24 season — the most losses in program history — the Cougars, 15-8 overall and 7-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association, have assured themselves of a winning record with the victory over the Dragons. Drexel fell to 3-20 and 1-11.
After going through what the Cougars went through last year with the losses and the coaching change just two months before the start of the season, Johnson has been able to appreciate what this team has accomplished so far.
“It’s been fun to go out and win games and kind of live in the moment,” Johnson said. “I’ve been able to reflect a little bit to think about what our record is now as opposed to last season. Last year we were just fighting every game, but at the end of the day we only won nine games. It’s a process and we’re not done. We will be able to look back after the season is over and really realize what we accomplished.”
“I like winning because it beats the alternative,” Grant said. “I’ve always been around winning people and winning programs. For me it’s more about the process. We don’t worry about results. We worry about our effort, our attitude, our spirit and living by our standards. If they beat us when we live by our standards, we’re going to shake their hands and tell them congratulations.
“We’re not worried as much about winning and losing. It’s great to have a winning season, but we want to build a great program and we’re in the process of doing that and we’re making strides, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
The Cougars, who lead the CAA in scoring defense, did nothing to hurt their statistics against the Dragons.
Drexel missed their first 10 shots from the floor, didn’t record their initial point of the game until midway through the first half and had just 10 points at halftime.
Drexel’s Rodney Williams, who had 19 points in the Dragons’ 61-54 win over the Cougars last month, was held to just eight points. The Cougars double-teamed Williams every time he touched the ball in the paint.
“(Williams) hurt us in the first game we felt like their post guys were their best players,” said freshman Nick Harris, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds. “We made a point of double-teaming him and not letting him get good looks at the basket.”
While the Dragons couldn’t make a shot, the Cougars rushed out to an early lead. Brantley, Evan Bailey and Marquise Pointer each knocked down 3-pointers as the Cougars jumped to a 19-1 lead midway through the opening half.
“Our defense in the first half laid the foundation for what we did the rest of the game,” Johnson said. “We got off to a good start defensively and that led to some easy baskets. The coaching staff had a great game plan and we executed to the best of our ability.”
Much of the second half turned into a free throw shooting contest — the two teams combined for nearly 50 free throw attempts.
The Dragons got as close as 15 points on Terrell Allen’s layup with 11:23 to play, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the way.
“Our defense was really, really good all game,” Grant said. “I thought it was a total team effort. Our guys played with a lot of energy and passion. I thought we did a great job defensively of paying attention to detail and staying connected to each other.”