Chants fall prey to Panthers as freshmen step to fore

The Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team led by as many as six points in the first half and took a 33-30 advantage into halftime but it was not enough to stop the hot-shooting Panthers of High Point University who used a 44-29 second-half surge to down Coastal, 74-62.

The Panthers shot just 37.0 percent from the field in the first half but came out in the second and nailed 66.7 percent of their shot attempts including 75.0 percent from 3-point range. Coastal shot 51.9 percent from the field in the first half and then dropped down to just 42.3 percent in the second half.

Freshman Badou Diagne led the way for the Chants as he scored a career-high 13 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. He was nearly perfect from the field hitting 5-of-6 including 2-of-3 from 3-point range. Freshman Michel Enanga added 10 points and five boards while hitting 4-of-5 from the field including 2-of-2 from 3-point range. Senior Anthony Raffa had 12 points while junior El Hadji Ndieguene, sophomore Warren Gillis and freshman Tristian Curtis each had six.

CCU dominated in the paint outscoring the Panthers 36-18 inside but the biggest difference came at the free-throw line where the Panthers hit 23-of-36 while Coastal shot just 10 attempts while hitting seven. CCU found themselves in foul trouble throughout the game with Ndieguene and Ljeskovic fouling out and Diagne ending with four.

The Panthers and Chants battled over the opening few minutes with neither team gaining much of an advantage. With HPU up 12-9, the Chants began a 9-0 run including five from Raffa which gave CCU its largest lead of the game, 18-12. HPU answered with a 10-0 run of its own to retake the lead with 7:13 to play in the first. Down 26-23 with 4:48 to play, the Chants closed out the first half with a 10-4 run that was sparked by Diagne who dribbled past his defender and dunked the ball in traffic while picking up a foul on HPU. Ljeskovic rebounded and scored Diagne’s missed free throw to give CCU four quick points.

CCU held onto the lead until the 17:38 mark of the second half when an HPU free throw tied the game at 39. A Panther layup a minute later gave High Point its first lead of the second half and the Panthers would never trail again. HPU built up its lead to as much as 18 points in the second half. CCU closed out the game on a 9-3 run that closed the gap to 12 as time expired.

The Chants return to action this Wednesday at 7 p.m. as they travel to Presbyterian College. The Chants defeated PC 61-43 at home earlier this season.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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