Cougars Claim 66-59 Road Win To Split CAA Weekend Series With Delaware

Cougars Claim 66-59 Road Win To Split CAA Weekend Series With Delaware
Three players scored in double figures as College of Charleston claimed a 66-59 road win at Delaware to split the Colonial Athletic Association opening-weekend series on Sunday at the Bob Carpenter Center. (Source: College of Charleston Basketball)

NEWARK, Del. – Three players scored in double figures as College of Charleston claimed a 66-59 road win at Delaware to split the Colonial Athletic Association opening-weekend series on Sunday at the Bob Carpenter Center.

Graduate senior guard Payton Willis continued on his hot-shooting streak leading the way for the Cougars (3-6, 1-1 CAA) with a game-high tying 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field including three of the team’s nine 3-pointers in the ballgame. He was coming off a career-high 21-point performance on Saturday.

Junior guard Zep Jasper joined Willis in double figures with 13 points including three 3-pointers, while junior transfer Cameron Copeland came off the bench and added 10.

Charleston never trailed after opening the game on a 10-4 run holding the Blue Hens scoreless for a stretch of two and a half minutes. Willis, Copeland, freshman guard D’Avian Houston and graduate senior forward Lorenzo Edwards drained multiple threes to put the Cougars out in front for much of the first half.

The Blue Hens (3-4, 1-1 CAA), who were playing without the services of second-leading scorer Kevin Anderson, were led by 17 from top returning player Ryan Allen. They used an 11-0 run in the second half to cut the lead into single digits.

The Cougars return home and will host Drexel (5-2, 0-0 CAA) in back-to-back weekend games on Saturday, Jan. 9 and Sunday, Jan. 10. Both games will tip-off at 1 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena.

POSTGAME NOTES

· For the second-straight game, College of Charleston went with the starting five of Zep Jasper, Payton Willis, Brenden Tucker, Lorenzo Edwards and Osinachi Smart (1-1). It marked Tucker’s second career start.

· With the win, College of Charleston split the opening-weekend series with Delaware. The Cougars now lead 13-7 in the all-time series with the Blue Hens. They have won 10 out of the last 12 meetings between the two schools since joining the CAA in July of 2013.

· Payton Willis poured in a game-high tying 17 points on Sunday to go along with his career-high tying 21 points on Saturday at Delaware. He has now reached double figures in eight of the team’s nine games on the season.

· Zep Jasper turned in back-to-back games in double figures with 13 points on Saturday and Sunday at Delaware. He has reached double digits in seven of nine games played this year.

· Cameron Copeland came off the bench and scored in double figures for the second time this season with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc at Delaware. He also made his first career blocked shot in the second half of play.

· The CofC defense held Delaware to a season-low tying 59 points and forced the Blue Hens to commit 14 turnovers to which the Cougars converted into 13 of its points. UD previously scored 59 points in a loss to Morgan State on Dec. 21.

POSTGAME QUOTES

College of Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant

On the road win …

“I certainly thought the kids played hard. Didn’t really know what to expect coming into these back-to-back conference games. You lose one on the first day. How do you respond in less than 24 hours? I thought our guys responded well. They trusted each other. We defended more like we are capable of. We had (12) assists. It’s a great reflection of our program in terms of the toughness and the grittiness. We just need to build on it. This was a good start.”

On the play of Payton Willis …

“He was really aggressive early. We need him to be aggressive. I talked to both him and Zep (Jasper) about being aggressive. Make plays and take some chances. I thought both of those guys did a good job of that. We had a few other guys. Cameron Copeland gave us a great lift off the bench. He hasn’t had an opportunity to play much. He was ready when his number was called. Dontavius (King) had some timely baskets as well as Lorenzo Edwards. Total team effort. Nice to feel that victorious feeling again. Hopefully, we can build on it and keeping improving. This team has to learn how to win, but today was certainly a good start to that.”

On the Cougars’ efficiency in the paint …

“We did a great job of getting in the paint today. I think that’s why our assists were up. We scored 20 of our points in the paint. We got to the paint and made the right decisions. It was a reflection of our assist total and our system.”

On developing the team’s bench …

“Everybody played except for Samba (Ndiaye). He’s still coming off of an ACL injury from last season, but he’s recovered. He will have opportunities later this season. We needed to use our depth in order to play two games back-to-back. It definitely helped us. We had 23 points from the bench, so that’s a lot. I am happy the guys can celebrate a victory for the week and prepare for the next games knowing we can win.”