CHARLESTON, SC - College of Charleston held off a late second-half UNCW run to hold on to an 80-76 win over its Colonial Athletic Association archrival on Thursday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (13-6, 4-3 CAA) and Seahawks (5-14, 2-5 CAA) previously faced each other in the championship game of the CAA Tournament last March with UNCW earning the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
In the much-anticipated rematch, CofC came out blazing in the first half capitalizing on a 48-31 halftime lead behind 54.8 percent shooting from the field and draining six of its 10 three-pointers on the night.
Five players scored in double figures for preseason favorite Charleston behind a team-high 18 points from Joe Chealey and 16 points each from Jarrell Brantley and Grant Riller. Cameron Johnson added 11 and Nick Harris 10.
Brantley and Johnson both joined Chealey in the 1,000-Career Point Club at CofC with their first points in the first half of play.
UNCW was led by a double-double performance from big man Devontae Cacok, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Ty Taylor scored a game-high 23.
The Seahawks cut the lead down to two points on a three-pointer by Jaylen Fornes, 73-71, with 1:32 to go. However, Chealey sealed the victory with two made free throws with 6.7 seconds remaining.
The Cougars remain an undefeated 9-0 at home and will continue its homestand with Hofstra (12-7, 5-2 CAA) on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. The featured CAA Game of the Week will be broadcast on CBS SportsLive (Digital).
Tickets for the game can be purchased by calling (843) 953-COFC or online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets
• For the seventh-straight CAA game, College of Charleston went with the starting five of Joe Chealey, Grant Riller, Cameron Johnson, Jarrell Brantley and Nick Harris. For the first time this season, all five starters scored in double figures combining for 71 of the team's 80 points in the ballgame.
• With the win, CofC has now won two of the last three meetings between to the two Coastal schools. However, UNCW still holds a one-game advantage in the all-times series, 13-12. It also was the sixth-consecutive game in the series in which the contest was decided in single digits (+4).
• Joe Chealey recorded a team-high 19 points including four three-pointers against UNCW. He also dished out a team-best four assists and has scored in double figures in 18-of-19 games this season. Chealey has tabulated 1,550 career points to date and surpassed former CofC great and fellow point guard Dontaye Draper (1,541) for sixth all-time on the school's career scoring list.
• Cameron Johnson registered 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from long range versus UNCW. He became the 35th all-time player in school history to record 1,000 points in a career and has now tabulated 1,007 career points to date.
• Jarrell Brantley extended his double-digit scoring streak to seven-straight games in conference play with 16 points and seven rebounds against UNCW. He became the 36th all-time player in school history to join the 1,000-Career Point Club and has recorded 1,015 career points to date.
• Nick Harris turned in a solid night with 10 points, team-high eight rebounds and two blocked shots versus UNCW. It marked his sixth double-figure scoring game of the season.
• Grant Riller recorded double digits for the fifth-straight contest with 16 points including a 4-for-4 performance from the free throw line against UNCW.
• CofC has now drained 10-or-more three-pointers in a contest on four occasions this season. The Cougars made a team league season-high 10-of-21 from long range versus UNCW.
• The Cougars scored 48 first-half points – the second-most this season in the first half behind 53 first-half points against North Greenville on Dec. 10.
• Charleston has now scored 80-or-more points and shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc in four out of its seven games in league play.
College of Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant
On the game …
"It was an unbelievable game and certainly a tale of two halves. I thought we played excellent in the first half. We were really defending it. We moved the ball and we executed. We got into a little bit of foul trouble early in the second half, so we went away from our normal lineup. Our execution fell off a little bit. The ball wasn't moving as much. They (UNCW) made a run in the middle of the half where they made a couple of threes and beat us in transition. But at the end of the day, in a season, you are trying to get your team to play a great 40-minute game. Right now, we just haven't gotten to that point of playing a great 40-minute game. But, I'm excited about how we look when we can get to that point. We are starting to score the ball better and our defense has been good in our last two-to-three games. When we get to the point where we maximize our ability to defend and score, I think we have a chance to be really good."
College of Charleston Junior Forward Jarrell Brantley
On the different between the team's play in the first and second halves …
"I thought we were focused for both of the halves. They (UNCW) just made some plays coming down the stretch in the second half. It's good to put this one behind us. They are a good team, but it's not the same anymore. Just to get a win (no matter who we were playing) was more important to us."
College of Charleston Senior Guard Joe Chealey
On the first and second halves …
"In the first half, we came out pretty focused and locked in. We were moving the ball well. We played good defense. In the second half, I thought we were just as focused. But, they (UNCW) made a few adjustments and made some shots. You have to give them credit. I'm happy with the win."
On defeating UNCW after falling last year to the Seahawks in the CAA title game …