College of Charleston downs Sam Houston State, 59-49, in Great Alaska Shootout

November 24, 2017

With Jarrell Brantley and Grant Riller out of the lineup Thursday night with injuries, College of Charleston coach Earl Grant knew he was going to have to get some help from some unlikely places.

Enter Marquise Pointer.

Pointer, making his first collegiate start, finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, four steals and four assists and Joe Chealey added 13 points to lead College of Charleston past Sam Houston State, 59-49, Thursday night in the second round of the Great Alaska Shootout at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska.

The Cougars (3-2) will take on the winner of the Santa Clara-Alaska Anchorage game Saturday night beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Pointer has spent the last couple of seasons coming off the Cougars’ bench, spelling Chealey, Cameron Johnson and Riller. On other teams, the 6-1, point guard would probably be a starter. But the Jonesboro, Ark., native has been content with his role on the team.

With Riller in street clothes after suffering a knee injury in Wednesday’s opening-round loss to Cal Poly, Pointer was inserted into the Cougars starting lineup.

“I thought Marquise gave us a great lift,” Grant said. “Sometimes you have to adjust and adapt. Marquise Pointer is a really good player. He doesn’t get to play a ton because of the guards we’ve got on this team. He normally gets about 20 minutes and tonight he had 36.”

Pointer wasn’t the only Cougar to step up with Brantley and Riller sidelined. Nick Harris had his best outing of the young season, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot. Harris, a 6-10 junior, had three huge baskets down the stretch for the Cougars.

“Nick played well,” Grant said. “I was really proud of the way he competed, 11 points, eight rebounds. He really did a good of delivering late in the game when he got the ball in the post.”

Sophomore Jaylen McManus finished with three 3-pointers and six rebounds and Evan Bailey came off the bench to chip in six points.

“Jaylen McManus stepped up and gave us some threes and Evan was good again tonight. It was a total team effort and hopefully this is something we can build on,” Grant said. “We were a couple of players down and I thought from a toughness and gritty standpoint we were able to chip away at it one possession at a time and we were able to make enough plays to win and I’m proud of the guys.”

The Cougars overcame another poor shooting performance by sharing the basketball. The Cougars handed out 15 assists on 19 made shots and committed to just seven turnovers.

“We knew we needed to drive the ball because they pressure the ball on the perimeter,” Grant said. “We were able to drive the gaps and kick the ball out to our shooters. I thought our guys did a great job of being unselfish. They were making the extra pass to get that open three. We were able to make some threes as a result.”

It was a sloppy affair from beginning to end as neither team was able to find their shooting touch. The Cougars scored the final nine points of the half and led 25-18 at intermission as both teams shot below 29 percent from the floor during the opening 20 minutes.

The second half was more of the same as the Bearkats slowly began to chip away at the Cougars lead. Albert Almanza’s 3-pointer tied the game at 41-41 with 8:58 to play.

But the Cougars answered down the stretch. Harris made a nice baseline move that resulted in a layup, Bailey hit a three and Johnson sank a driving layup as the Cougars stretched their lead back to 51-44 with 2:42 to play.