Despite a double-double from sophomore forward Jarrell Brantley and a 21-point game from redshirt junior Joe Chealey, the College of Charleston Cougars weren’t able to turn their first Colonial Athletic Association title game appearance into an automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
The Cougars fell to the top-seeded University of North Carolina Wilmington 78-69 in the tourney’s final at North Charleston Coliseum. The loss came as the team was unable to keep up with a flurry of Seahawks points in the second half that opened up a 15-point gulf with 8:25 left in the game.
“”It was a three-minute spell and that’s all it took,” says coach Earl Grant. “The game went from six points. We cut it from six to four. They had a three-minute spell where it went from four to 14 (points) and it happened quickly. We had a couple of turnovers and they made threes. Give them credit. They made two-or-three big threes. They are a good team. They were No. 1 and we were No. 2. They won and someone had to lose.”
Chealey recorded his 14th 20-plus point game of the season in the final and is now 26th all time on CofC’s career scoring list with 1,198 points. Brantley, meanwhile, scored 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, good for his 11th double-double of the season.
Grant says despite the tough loss, the team took a leap forward during the 2015-16 season and that the Cougars will most likely be making an appearance in a postseason tournament.
“We knew we had the chance to play for something special,” Grant says. “We have a great team. Obviously, I’m disappointed. We wanted to get to the NCAA Tournament and do all those things. I’ll be disappointed for a few more days. But, I’m proud of our players and I’m proud of our coaching staff. I’m proud of where our program is. We still have more basketball to play.”
Photo via CofC Sports.