Despite Loss, Future Is Bright for Cougars After First NIT Appearance Since 2011

Despite Loss, Future Is Bright for Cougars After First NIT Appearance Since 2011

The men’s basketball team may have missed out on a chance to repeat its deepest postseason run in program history Tuesday night, but the future is very bright for the College of Charleston Cougars.

The team’s first NIT run since 2011 ended in an 81-74 loss to No. 4 seed Colorado State in the tourney’s first round. The Cougars were down 42-33 at halftime but were able to pull within three with 5:21 to go. But a pair of jumpers and free throws by Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Gian Clavell in the final minutes put the game out of reach.

“I am really proud of our players for not giving in when it got to 16 points and it wasn’t going well for us,” says coach Earl Grant. “We were able to continue to fight.”

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Redshirt junior guard Joe Chealey was the team’s top scorer with 16 points. It was his 17th straight double-digit game and moved him to 25th all-time on CofC’s career scoring list with 1,214 points. Sophomore Jarrell Brantley, meanwhile, recorded his 12th double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Grant and the players won’t be hanging their heads after the loss. The Cougars’ 25-10 season marked a high-water point in Grant’s three years with the team; in his first year, CofC only recorded nine wins. And with just three seniors leaving the team after this season, junior guard Cameron Johnson says “it’s only up from here.”

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“Nine wins my freshman year to sophomore year to 25-10 (record) and first round in the NIT,” says  Johnson. ” Everybody who plays on this team – it’s our first time in postseason play.”

He added, “Coach Grant is going to guide us higher and higher.”

Photo via CofCSports.