Chants’ comeback cut short by Bulldogs’ buzzer beater

Coastal Carolina staged an impressive comeback Wednesday night only to fall victim to a last-second tip-in in a 66-65 loss at Gardner-Webb.

Trailing almost the entire contest, the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team used a late rally to overcome an double-digit deficit on the road at Gardner-Webb and take the lead for the first time with 53 seconds left in the game. After some back-and-forth possessions the Chants found themselves up 65-64 with eight seconds remaining.

After a timeout, Coastal played tremendous defense and forced a desperation jumper with a second left on the clock. The shot was off the mark but freshman forward Jerome Hill of GWU found the ball midair and tipped it in with .2 seconds left on the clock. The time expired as the ball went through the hoop to give GWU a 66-65 victory at home over the visiting Chanticleers.

CCU’s record falls to 7-8 on the season and 2-2 in Big South Conference play. Gardner-Webb improves to 10-8 overall and 2-2 in the BSC.

Coastal’s comeback was powered by overwhelming defense and a strong presence on the boards but on the final two GWU possessions of the game it was the rebounding that cost CCU as the Runnin’ Bulldogs got a pair of tip-ins by Hill for their final two baskets.

CCU was playing without senior point guard Kierre Greenwood who missed the game due to flu-like symptoms. Senior Charles Ashford stepped into the starting point guard role and scored eight points for the Chants. Senior Anthony Raffa led the way with a game-high 25 points including four 3-pointers while hitting 10-of-19 shots from the field.

Sophomore Warren Gillis came up huge in the final minute of play scoring the basket that put the Chants in the lead for the first time and then racing coast to coast to give CCU the lead with eight seconds left on the clock. He finished with eight points.

Ndieguene led the team on the boards with 11 rebounds while freshman Uros Ljeskovic chipped in seven including four on the offensive end.

Coastal was in foul trouble almost the entire game and had one player foul out, three players end with four fouls and another with three fouls. GWU spent 11:35 of the first half in the bonus and 15:55 of the second half. Gillis picked up his fourth foul of the game with 15:55 remaining in the second half but managed to stay clean the rest of the way while contributing to CCU’s comeback.

The Chants also struggled from the free-throw line hitting 6-of-15 for the game and just 2-of-10 in the second half.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs opened the game with a 9-2 run and led the rest of the way until a Gillis jumper gave CCU the lead with just under a minute to play in the second half. CCU cut the lead to three twice in the first half but GWU would not let the Chants get any closer. The Runnin’ Bulldogs took a 34-28 lead into the halftime break.

GWU used an early run in the second half to build up a double-digit lead. CCU cut the lead to four with 4:54 to play but a 7-0 run by the Runnin’ Bulldogs pushed the lead back to 11. An old-fashioned 3-point play by Raffa cut the lead to eight with 3:02 to play.

After a missed jumper, freshman Justin Daniel hit a jumper to cut the lead to six with 2:23 left on the clock. Daniel then picked up a steal on the next possession and Raffa made GWU pay with a jumper to make the score 62-58 with 2:19 left. After another missed jumper by GWU, Raffa came down the court and hit a dagger three with 1:38 on the clock to cut it to one.

An offensive foul on GWU gave the Chants the ball with 1:27 left but a missed jumper on the offensive end gave the ball back. The Runnin’ Bulldogs had a miscommunication on their next possession that led to the ball being thrown out of bounds. Gillis made GWU pay for its mistake on the Chants next possession as he hit a running jumper in the lane to give CCU a 63-62 lead with 53 seconds left on the clock.

The Chants defense stood strong on the next GWU offensive possession but a missed shot led to a tip-in by Hill with 13 seconds left. The Runnin’ Bulldogs decided to full court press and Gillis took the inbound and went coast-to-coast with the ball and hit a layup with just over eight seconds left on the clock. After a GWU timeout, the Chants defense forced an off-balance shot but Hill was there again as the time expired to give the Runnin’ Bulldogs a 66-65 victory.

Coastal returns to action this Saturday, Jan. 19 at 11:00 am at home against VMI. The game will be broadcast nationwide on ESPNU and former CCU women’s basketball standout Brooke Weisbrod will be serving as the on-air talent for the game.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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