On his 21st birthday, Grant Riller scored a career-and game-high 37 points to lead College of Charleston to a pivotal 82-77 win over William & Mary to remain in first place in the Colonial Athletic Association race on Thursday night at TD Arena.
The Cougars (19-6, 10-3 CAA) held the Tribe (15-9, 8-5 CAA) – the league’s top-shooting ball club from three-point range – to 7-of-21 shooting from beyond the arc in the game.
Riller poured in 28 of his 37 points in the first half. It marked the third-most points scored by a CofC basketball player in the program’s NCAA Division I era (1992-Present). He was joined in double figures by Jarrell Brantley with 19, Joe Chealey 12 and Cameron Johnson 10.
Despite Riller’s 28 in the first half, the score was tied at 41-41 at halftime. William & Mary didn’t go away easily in the second half of play. There were three more ties until a layup by Riller sparked a CofC run, 57-56, with 10:36 remaining in regulation. Charleston never looked back.
Nathan Knight led William & Mary, which shot 51.8 percent from the field, with 29 points, while Connor Burchfield added 12.
The Cougars have now won seven in a row and remain an undefeated 12-0 at home at TD Arena. The preseason league favorites, they have now turned in back-to-back 10-win conference seasons under fourth-year head coach Earl Grant.
Up next, CofC will host Drexel (11-15, 4-9 CAA) as part of CofC Homecoming festivities on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. Tickets can still be purchased by calling (843) 953-COFC or online at: www.CofCSports.com/tickets
• For the 13th-straight game in conference play, the College of Charleston started Joe Chealey, Grant Riller, Cameron Johnson, Jarrell Brantley and Nick Harris.
• With the win, College of Charleston is now 4-1 when playing William & Mary on its home court in the 10-game all-time series between the two schools. The Tribe, however, still lead 6-4 overall in the all-time series.
• Grant Riller scored a career-and game-high 37 points including 28 in the first half versus William & Mary. It marked the second most points in a half this season for Riller, who had 21 second-half points versus South Carolina State on Dec. 19. His 37 points were also the third-most by a CofC player in the program’s NCAA Division I history behind former great Andrew Goudelock (39 in 2011) and Dontaye Draper (38 in 2007). The school record for most points in a single game (NAIA and NCAA) is held by Sam Meade (45 in 1971).
• Jarrell Brantley turned in 19 points against William & Mary, which marked his 11th double-figure scoring game of the season. He has now tabulated 1,106 career points to date which ranks 32nd all-time.
• Joe Chealey registered 12 points versus William & Mary and has now scored in double figures in 24-of-25 games this season. He has recorded 1,679 career points to date.
• Cameron Johnson recorded 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field against William & Mary. He has now scored in double figures in three of the last four games for the Cougars.
• The Cougars made a season-high nine steals versus William & Mary.
• The CofC defense held William & Mary to its third-lowest scoring output of the season in conference play (77). The Tribe came into the game averaging 85.3 points per game, which ranked No. 10 in the nation. The Cougars also held W&M to just 33.3 percent from beyond the arc (7-of-21).
College of Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant
On the game …
“It was a good win against a very good team (in William & Mary). I thought our guys played well and really stuck to the game plan. We did what we needed to do. We had a lot of guys come off the bench and give us energy plays. Our crowd was fantastic. They gave us a big lift. It was just a great win and we beat a good team tonight.”
On Grant Riller’s 28-point first half …
“I can’t recollect it. I don’t remember seeing a guy have that type of a half in awhile. But, that’s why he (Grant Riller) is here and why we recruited him. I’m just glad that he believed in this program and decided to come here. He was in our first recruiting class and he has really helped us move the program forward.”
College of Charleston Sophomore Guard Grant Riller
On his career-high 37 points …
“I just got to play a game (on my birthday) and that was good enough for me. It just felt good to come out here, be aggressive and just hit some shots tonight. I didn’t know how much (points) I had at the half. I knew I made a couple of threes, but we were still tied at the half. I was more focused on coming out and getting the win.”
College of Charleston Junior Forward Jarrell Brantley
On watching Grant Riller’s performance on the court …
“I’ve seen better from him honestly. There have been some days when we play pick-up and pretty much he doesn’t miss. I’ve expected that since the first day I stepped on the court with him. He is one of the best scorers I’ve seen.”