Strong second half lifts College of Charleston past Delaware, 65-56
College of Charleston probably couldn’t have thrown the ball into the Atlantic Ocean from the Folly Beach pier in the first half Thursday night against Delaware.
The Cougars were shooting a dismal 24 percent from the floor, at one point missing 11 straight shots from the floor.
But the Cougars trailed just 26-20 headed into halftime, and Cougars coach Earl Grant wasn’t overly concerned about Charleston’s deficit.
He figured the Cougars would eventually start making shots and play as well or better defensively in the second half.
He was right.
Joe Chealey scored 19 points to lead four players in double figures as College of Charleston defeated Delaware 65-56 on Monday night in Newark, Delaware.
The Cougars (11-4, 2-0 in CAA) won for the eighth time in their last nine games and for first time at the Bob Carpenter Center. The Blue Hens fell to 7-8, 0-2.
Grant didn’t use a rousing halftime speech to inspire his players, he just pointed out the obvious.
“I thought we got some good shots in the first half,” Grant said. “We had some good looks from the perimeter that didn’t fall for us and a couple of layups around the basket that we just didn’t make for whatever reason. I told the guys at halftime we left 14 points out on the floor with some of the 3s and layups we missed. If we can continue to get those same shots, they’ll start falling for us.”
What had Grant convinced a comeback was possible was the fact that the Cougars had given up just 26 points in the opening half.
“I told them not to get discouraged because Delaware was on a 52-point pace for the game,” Grant said. “I thought that was a positive and if we continued to defend as well as we did in the first half, we had a chance.”
While the Blue Hens managed more than 26 points in the second half -- Delaware finished with 30 points over the final 20 minutes -- Charleston erupted for 45 points. The Cougars shot 54 percent from the floor and were 6 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half.
“Our shots started to fall in the second half and the defense was just as good,” Grant said. “I thought we picked up our defensive intensity. We were just trying to win every possession. I thought those guys went out there with a hunter’s mentality. They were out there hunting for those final 20 minutes.”
After jumping out to an early 5-0 lead, the Cougars went more than seven minutes without a single point. Delaware scored the next 13 points and led 13-5 with 12:20 to play on Anthony Mosley’s layup.
The Blue Hens led by as many as 11, but the Cougars slowly began to chip away at the lead, closing to six by halftime.
Charleston used an 11-5 run to start the second half to tie the game at 31 on Cameron Johnson’s3-pointer with 15:27 to play.
The Blue Hens answered with a 6-0 run of their own to take a 37-31 advantage on Ryan Daly’s driving layup with 12:52 to go.
But the Cougars put the game away over the six minutes, outscoring the Blue Hens 15-2 to grab a 46-39 lead on two free throws from Grant Riller with 6:38 remaining.
Riller and Johnson each finishd with 10 points, while Jarrell Brantley had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Cougars.
Sophomore center Nick Harris, who has started 13 games this season, missed the game attending a family issue. Freshman Chevez Goodwin had five points and a game-high 12 rebounds in place of Harris.
Harris is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday when the Cougars return home against Towson at TD Arena.