Jarrell Brantley scored a game-high 24 points, but it was not enough as No. 13 seed College of Charleston fell to No. 4 seed Auburn, 62-58, in a first-round thriller in the NCAA Midwest Region on Friday night at Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl.
The Tigers (26-7) overcame a horrible shooting performance (35.6%) to win in their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003. But they only survived in part because of 21 turnovers committed by the Cougars (26-8).
Mustapha Heron scored 16 points for Auburn, which also shot 20.8 percent from 3-point range (5-of-24).
The Cougars pulled to 61-58 when Grant Riller made one-of-two free throws with 20.4 seconds left. Auburn’s Davion Mitchell missed two free throws with 14 seconds to go, giving Charleston a chance. Riller launched a 3 with four seconds left that fell short. He appeared to get fouled but nothing was called.
Harper then made one of two free throws with 3.2 seconds left to seal it. Riller ended the night with 16 points.
It was the Cougars’ first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999. They reached the Big Dance as the tournament champions of the Colonial Athletic Association and won 14 of their last 16 games of the season.
• College of Charleston made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 19 years and fifth all-time. The Cougars are now 1-5 all-time in NCAA Tournament games.
• It was the fourth all-time meeting between Auburn and College of Charleston. The Tigers now lead 4-0 in the all-time series.
• Jarrell Brantley scored a game-high 24 points against Auburn in the NCAA First Round. It marked his 10th 20-point game of the season for the Cougars.
• Grant Riller turned in 16 points versus Auburn to mark his 29th double-figure scoring game of the season. He scored in double digits in 12-straight games to end the season.
• The Cougars committed a season-high 21 turnovers but outrebounded the Tigers, 40-36.
College of Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant:
On the game …
“I thought we gave great effort, but came up a little bit short. Give Auburn credit, they made a couple of big threes at the end, but I thought our team played with great heart and with great toughness. Our guys left everything on the court tonight.”
On Joe Chealey’s injury …
“Joe (Chealey) is a senior, and obviously, he’s got the heart of a lion. He was our leader and did a lot for us this season and for the program over four years. He wanted to put his best foot forward to try to help his teammates and he just came up a little bit short. He had an ankle sprain and he couldn’t do what he wanted to do. But, again, that's why it’s called a team. Our guys, they left everything on the court for forty minutes. They had a chance to win it at the end.”
College of Charleston Sophomore Guard Grant Riller:
On what he would want the program to be remembered for …
“Just toughness. Our program is built off that, so just being remembered as tough kids.”