College of Charleston coach Earl Grant tries to remain as positive as possible no matter what it says on the scoreboard.
But trailing by as many as 30 points late in the second half against William & Mary on Saturday, even the normally upbeat Grant had to admit this wasn't one of the Cougars better efforts.
Omar Prewitt scored 18 points and Marcus Thornton added 16 points to lead William & Mary past the College of Charleston, 75-45, in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both schools at Kaplan Arena.
The Cougars (5-9), who failed to break the 50-point mark for the third straight game, looked like a tired, listless team against the Tribe (7-5). William & Mary seemed to be a step ahead of the Cougars, getting to every loose ball and winning every hustle play.
"We had no energy, we had no effort and they out-toughed us," Grant said. "We didn't play very well today. We didn't do what we needed to do. I've got to do a better job coaching, my staff has to do a better job and the players have to do a better job."
The start of play in the CAA was to be a new beginning for Charleston, but unfortunately, the Cougars were making the same mistakes they've been making in their last five games, all losses.
"I'm searching. I'm trying to figure it out and so are the players," Grant said. "The only way I know to get better is to get back into the gym and work. That's what we're going to do."
It was another sluggish start for the Cougars, who started the game just 2 of 12 from the field. The Cougars shot 18 of 51 (35 percent) from the floor for the entire game. While the Cougars couldn't buy a basket, the Tribe couldn't miss sinking 10 of their first 12 shots and racing out to a 24-10 lead.
The biggest issue came on the boards, where the Cougars were outrebounded, 43-24, and gave up 10 offensive rebounds.
"That goes back to our lack of energy and our lack of effort and toughness," Grant said.
One of the few bright spots for the Cougars was the defensive play of Cameron Johnson on Thornton. Johnson harassed Thornton, the preseason CAA player of the year, all over the court, forcing the senior guard to work for every point he got. Thornton was 7 of 13 from the floor.
"I thought Cameron was one of the few guys that played with a lot of energy and effort," Grant said. "He did a good job on Thornton, got in his face and challenged him. He came up with some deflections and was athletically able to match up with Thornton pretty well. I think his size and physical play bothered Thornton a little bit."
The Cougars, who face James Madison on Monday at 7:30 p.m. at TD Arena, will have three straight home games this week to try and rebound.
"There are a lot of things we've got to figure out," Grant said. "Myself, my staff and collectively as a team, we have to figure out how good we want to be. We've got find those eight guys that want to play, and we're going to work, and if we've got to make some changes, then that it what we'll do."