The College of Charleston men’s basketball team will live to play another day in the CAA Tournament, after defeating the No. 7 seed James Madison University Dukes 67-62 in the quarterfinals of the North Charleston based tournament.
A match up of the two top defensive teams in the CAA, this game lived up to the billing in a low-scoring affair that came down to the wire.
“They play really good defensively and are one of the top defenses in the league,” said first team all-CAA selection Joe Chealey. “That’s what you expect when you play them. We knew that coming into the game. We made enough tough plays down the stretch and whatever we had to do to win the game, but give them a lot of credit.”
Although the Cougars led for nearly the entire game, the scoring margin in the second half never exceeded six points. As a result, the Dukes had opportunities to tie in the game’s final minute.
James Madison’s leading scorer on the night, Shakir Brown, had an opportunity to tie the game on a shot from the top of the key with seven seconds left in the second half, but Brown’s attempt from the top of the key missed off the back rim, ensuring the Cougars a victory.
“We made enough plays down the stretch and have been in enough tough games this season,” said 2017 CAA Coach of the Year Earl Grant. “We hustled and made big shots to win it at the end.”
Chealey led all Cougars in scoring with 21 points, while second-team all-CAA selection Jarrell Brantley notched his third consecutive game with a double-double, adding 16 points and 10 rebounds to the victory.
Following the five-point victory over the Dukes, the Cougars will prepare for a semifinal match up against the Towson Tigers on Sunday (Mar. 5, 4:30 p.m.) at the North Charleston Coliseum. The winner will advance to play in the finals on Monday, against either University of North Carolina, Wilmington or the College of William and Mary, with a berth to the NCAA Tournament at stake.
“It’s March Madness,” Chealey said. “The pressure is high. We know it’s win or go home. But, at the same time, you try to get control of your emotions and just go play basketball. This is what we love to do. It’s a little different playing in March, and we know what the stakes are, but that’s what makes basketball fun at this time.”