Balanced Chants top Bucs in Big South home opener

ccuhoops-0whiteLed by four players in double-figures, Coastal Carolina outlasted a persistent Charleston Southern team for an 83-74 victory in the Chanticleers’ home Big South opener Saturday afternoon at The HTC Center.

After being tied at 36 at halftime, Coastal (11-3, 2-0 Big South) took the lead for good with Josh Cameron’s fifth 3-pointer of the game at the 11:14 mark of the second half. Charleston Southern would cut the Chants lead to one point on four occasions throughout the remainder of the game, but Coastal would immediately answer with a basket to re-distance itself from its in-state rival. The Chants sealed the game with a 10-of-10 performance at the free-throw line over the final 1:51 of action.

In the first half it was Cameron with the hot hand as he scored 14 of the Chants’ 36 points on his way to a 17-point performance. In the second half it was Warren Gillis’ turn to lead the Chants, scoring 12 of his 18 total points in the period. Joining Cameron and Gillis in double-figures were Badou Diagne and Elijah Wilson with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Diagne also controlled a game-high 10 rebounds as he posted his fourth double-double of the season.

The Buccaneers (6-6, 0-1 Big South) were led by Saah Nimley’s 26 points, including 18 in the first half. Will Saunders scored 14 for CSU, while Aaron Wheeler and Cedrick Bowen chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively. Paul Gombwer and Arlon Harper co-led CSU on the boards with eight each.

The second half opened with three lead changes and three ties over the opening eight minutes of the half before Cameron’s final three of the contest put Coastal up 52-49 with just over 11 minutes showing on the clock. Shivaughn Wiggins followed with a one-handed floater in the lane on Coastal’s next possession to extend the white-clad Chants’ lead to five.

CSU twice cut the Chants’ lead back to a single point over the ensuing five minutes with the final time coming via two Nimley free throws with 4:03 to play. Gillis immediately answered with a mid-range jumper. Two possessions later Tristian Curtis grabbed an offensive rebound and managed to score the putback to give Coastal some breathing room. Gillis capped the 6-0 game-clinching run with his runner off the backboard, giving the Chants a 69-62 lead with 2:14 to play.

Following a 3-pointer by CSU’s Saunders’ the Bucs attempted to extend the game at the free-throw line. However, Coastal made each of its final 10 attempts and Diagne put an exclamation point on the win with a two-handed slam with nine second to play, providing the 83-74 final score.

Coastal opened the game on a 13-7 run with Diagne accounting for six points that included a pair of thunderous dunks. The Buccaneers would not back down and countered with a 22-13 run, which was fueled by 15 points from Nimley, to take a 32-26 lead.

It was then CCU’s Cameron’s turn to take over and lead the Chants back into the lead. Cameron knocked down a trio of threes and Gillis made a free throw as part of 10-2 run to take a 36-34 lead with 1:12 to play before the half. Each team committed turnovers on its ensuing possession before CSU’s Cedrick Bowen tied the game at 36 with a dunk just before the first-half clock expired.

Coastal finished the night hitting on 29-of-56 attempts for a 51.8 field goal percentage, while Charleston Southern was just 22-of-59 (37.3 percent). The Chanticleers outscored the Buccaneers 30-24 in the paint, despite being outrebounded 35-32.

Coastal hosts Longwood on Thurs., Jan. 8 with tipoff at approximately 7:30 p.m. The game is the second of a doubleheader with the women’s team taking on Liberty at 5:00 p.m.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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