The Cougars are just one victory away from punching a ticket to the Big Dance for the first time since 1999.
The men’s basketball team (25-8) will face off against the University of North Carolina Wilmington (28-5) in the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament at 7 p.m. Monday, March 6, at the North Charleston Coliseum. It’s CofC’s first CAA title game appearance since joining the conference in 2013. The winner earns an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
“We wanted to be in this position,” says Cougars Head Coach Earl Grant. “The players worked so hard and assistant coaches put so much time into it. We were trying to get to this point and now we have a great opportunity.”
The title berth came with the help of All-CAA first teamer Joe Chealey, who scored 29 points in a 67-59 victory over third-seeded Towson in the semifinals Sunday night. Twenty-five of those points came in the second half, when the Cougars had to overcome a seven-point deficit with 12 minutes left in the game.
The Cougars split their two games against UNCW, which finished the regular season atop the CAA. The Seahawks won the first meeting at TD Arena 65-59, but CofC snuck away with a 1-point win in Wilmington on Feb. 2.
“We both split in the regular season, so both teams know that we can win,” says Chealey. “That’s kind of what you want in the championship game – to have the two top teams playing against each other.”
Though Grant, Chealey and the rest of the Cougars won’t be playing in the familiar confines of TD Arena Monday night, there should be enough maroon and gold at the North Charleston Coliseum to make for a pretty fearsome home-court advantage. Grant says that the crowd support helped propel the team to a win on Sunday.
“If we continued to win, we knew it would be a build up of excitement in Charleston,” he says. “Hopefully, it will be an even better crowd tonight.”
Fans can purchase tickets in-person at the North Charleston Coliseum Box Office or online at Ticketmaster.com. The game will also be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.