The College of Charleston’s magical season came to a close in San Diego on Friday as the Auburn Tigers defeated the Cougars 62-58 in a classic defensive battle.

The loss ends a season that featured the Cougars winning both the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title and the CAA tournament championship for the first time since entering the conference in 2013.

After the game, College of Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant said his team played hard the entire game.

“You know, I thought we gave great effort, came up a little bit short,” said Grant. “Give Auburn credit. They made a couple of big threes at the end, but I thought our team played with great heart and with great toughness. And, you know, our guys left everything on the court tonight.”

Cougar fans turned out to support the team at the watch party in TD Arena. Photo by Reese Moore.

The game was tight the entire 40 minutes, with the lead changing seven times during the contest. CofC forward Jarrell Brantley lead all scorers with 24 points. It marked his 10th 20-point game of the season for the Cougars.

The College was making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 19 years and fifth all-time. The Cougars are now 1-5 all-time in NCAA Tournament games.

Grant Riller turned in 16 points versus Auburn to mark his 29th double-figure scoring game of the season. He scored in double digits in 12-straight games to end the season.

The game marked the final time that seniors Joe Chealey, Cam Johnson, Evan Bailey and John Eck played for the College of Charleston.

Chealey leaves the program ranked fifth on the College’s all-time scoring list.

A high-ankle injury sustained in the finals of the CAA tournament hampered Chealey’s play against Auburn on Friday.

In a press conference following the game, Grant said he expected that Chealey’s injury might be a factor in the game. But he credited the team’s captain for reviving a program that won just nine games only four years ago.

“He’s gotten better every year, and he deserves a lot of credit for really, you know, making an impact on this program leaving big, huge, footprints in the sand for the program and for the city of Charleston,” said Grant.

Photo by Mike Ledford.