Grant Riller scored 23 points, including two free throws with three seconds to play, to lead four players in double figures at College of Charleston defeated Georgia State, 84-80, Saturday afternoon at TD Arena.
Riller was a perfect 14 of 14 from the free throw line and Jaylen Richard converted three of four free throws in the final 25 seconds to secure the victory for the Cougars (2-0).
Riller was forced to play most of the game at the point guard position after starting point guard Zep Jasper left the game with an injury.
“I thought our guys did a great job of responding to adversity,” said College of Charleston coach Earl Grant. “None of the things that happened in the game tonight was in my game plan. I didn’t write it up. I couldn’t prepare for a lot of the things that happened. Having Grant (Riller) move to the point guard position for 30 minutes of the game with Zep (Jasper) having a tweak there. It was hard to organize and continue to execute in those circumstances. Our players showed great spirit and grit tonight. They played the way I expect them to play when faced with adversity.”
Jaylen McManus tied the game with a 3-pointer with 2:11 left and Richard hit a jumper to put Charleston in front, 79-77, with 1:36 left.
“It’s something I’ve been working on all four years since I’ve been here,” McManus said. “I’ve been working on different shots off the three and move. It was a confident shot. I knew I could make it, so I took it.”
The Panthers (1-1) trailed for the majority of the contest until late in the second half when Justin Roberts capped a 6-0 run to give Georgia State a 68-66 lead with 8:31 left in the game. Roberts finished the game with a team-high 22 points.
The Panthers led by five, 75-70 after Kane Williams scored at the basket with 5:33 to go.
The Cougars began to chip away at the lead. Richard had two free throws, but Nelson Phillips answered with a 3 for Georgia State to make it a one-point game, 81-80.
It was a first-time meeting between the two former Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC) rivals since 2006. GSU capitalized on an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers by Charleston, which resulted in 14 of its points.
“We have to continue to work on being sharper,” Grant said. “Some of it was defensive rebounding. We have to be better on the glass. When we needed stops, we got the stops. Their ability to score was us having 16 turnovers. We gave them some points and we’ve been one of the Top 10 teams in the nation in taking care of the ball the last five years here. It was out of character.”
The Cougars will face Oklahoma State Wednesday night beginning at 9 p.m. at TD Arena.