WILMINGTON – Sophomore forward Jarrell Brantley’s layup and free throw with 8.7 seconds remaining lifted Charleston past UNCW, 67-66, in a see-saw battle of the Colonial Athletic Association’s top two clubs on Thursday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Cougars (18-7, 9-2) snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Seahawks and climbed into a tie for first place atop the CAA standings. UNCW (20-4, 9-2) dropped back-to-back games for the first time all year. In a highly-anticipated match up that featured 13 ties and 15 lead changes, Charleston gained a split of the regular season series after dropping a 65-59 contest to UNCW on Jan. 19.
FINAL: 67-66 pic.twitter.com/4rphDQpAWx
— CAA Basketball (@CAABasketball) February 3, 2017
“I’m proud of our guys,” said Kevin Keatts, UNCW’s third-year coach. “We lost to a very good basketball team and they made a few more plays than us. We’re all disappointed because we’re competitors. I want our guys to have a short-term memory and come back ready to play on Saturday.”
Freshman guard Grant Riller led all scorers with 22 points on 9-of-14 from the floor to pace the Cougars. Sophomore forward Nick Harris matched his career high with 16 points and junior guard Joe Chealey closed with 15 for the Cougars, who shot 46.9 percent on the night.
UNCW senior Denzel Ingram set the stage for a thrilling finish when the slippery guard from Chapel Hill canned a step back jumper on the left wing with 24 seconds on the clock. Charleston answered on the other end of the floor by working the ball into Brantley for the go-ahead layup and ensuing free throw with 8.7 ticks left.
The Seahawks had one more chance to pull out the slugfest when Chris Flemmings was fouled following an offensive rebound with .08 seconds remaining, but after the Preseason CAA Player of the Year made his first free throw attempt, his second try to tie the game and force overtime bounced softly off the rim and time expired.
A sold out crowd will be on hand this Saturday when UNCW returns to the floor for its annual Homecoming Game as the Seahawks look to get back in the win column for the first time in three tries when Delaware (2-9, 9-15) visits the Port City.