CHARLESTON, S.C. – College of Charleston redshirt freshman forward Dontavius King recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds in a 76-70 overtime thriller with Western Carolina on Friday night at TD Arena.
Graduate senior guard Payton Willis hit a big three-point shot to tie the game with two seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime, 67-67.
The Catamounts (7-2), who have now won six of their last seven games, converted 23-of-35 free throw attempts to escape Charleston with their first road win in the all-time series since 2008.
They were led by Cory Hightower, a transfer who became eligible to play on Wednesday, with a game-high 17 points. He was one of five WCU players in double figures including 14 from Mason Faulkner.
CofC trailed for the majority of the ballgame, until taking its first lead late in the second half on a three-pointer made by Willis with 5:06 to go. The Cougars extended it out to four with another made three, this time by junior guard Zep Jasper, who ended the night with 16 as did Willis.
The Cougars (2-4) will close out non-conference play on the road at Georgia State (5-1) on Monday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. (ET) in Atlanta. The game will be televised on ESPN+.
· College of Charleston used the starting five of Zep Jasper, Payton Willis, DeAngelo Epps, Dontavius King and Osinachi Smart. It marked the second career start for Epps, who replaced Brevin Galloway in the starting lineup.
· Western Carolina ended a seven-game skid in the all-time series with College of Charleston. Eight of the last nine meetings between the Cougars and Catamounts have now been decided in single digits. It was the first overtime game in the 31-game series.
· Dontavius King registered his first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds versus Western Carolina. He has now reached double figures in four of the team’s last five contests.
· Zep Jasper extended his double-digit scoring streak to a career-best five-straight games with a team-high tying 16 points against Western Carolina.
· Payton Willis ended the night with a team-high tying 16 points including three 3-pointers versus WCU. It tied his season-best scoring performance (16) against Limestone on Nov. 28.
· Lorenzo Edwards contributed three of the team’s seven 3-pointers in the ballgame against Western Carolina. He turned in a season-high nine points in 15 minutes of action off the bench.
· For the sixth-consecutive game, the Cougars have made five-or-more steals. Jasper made two of the team’s five and King one on a big play that led to a dunk in the first half of play.
College of Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant
On the overtime loss …
“Obviously, it was a tough, gritty overtime game. We made a big shot to get to that position. It was an uphill climb the whole game. We never led, but our guys hung with it and stuck to the plan. We took the lead late in the second half. I was excited about their grit, perseverance and just hanging in there to find a way to keep competing. Defensively, there were too many undisciplined plays in terms of our ability to guard the ball with our feet and not our hands. They (Western Carolina) attempted 35 free throws. In an overtime game, if you look at the whole game, it was 35 to our 17. They doubled us. That’s unheard of. Haven’t been a situation like that before. In the second half, with about three minutes to play, we went up four. We wasted a couple of possessions and took a couple of shots. We probably could’ve gotten a better shot. They capitalized on it.”
On games like this used as teaching points with a young squad …
“I’m definitely not worried. I’m more disappointed that when you work hard every day and you give so much effort in practice. You just want to see some fruits of your labor. You want to see the things that you practice, show up on the court in the game. I’m not sure we are quite there yet. But, the guys are working hard every day. There is some labor going on and we haven’t seen some fruit from it. I like this team. We have some good guys. Certainly, we haven’t hit our rhythm yet. We have one more game left in the non-conference. We need to get ready for that, perform the best of our ability and see if we can compete at a high level the ‘Charleston Way.’”
College of Charleston Graduate Senior Guard Payton Willis
On the difference in the ballgame …
“They (Western Carolina) got to the free throw line with eight minutes left to go in the second half. All the way down to the rest of the game. I felt like that was the turning point in the game right there.”
On the difference in the team’s offense without Brevin Galloway in the lineup …