Chants fall to Bulldogs for second straight league loss

ccuhoops-23fingerrollAfter trailing by double-digits for most of the game, Coastal Carolina cut UNC Asheville’s lead to nine points with 4:33 to play, but the Chanticleers would get no closer as the Bulldogs secured a 75-65 victory Thursday evening in front of a national ESPNU audience.

Coastal trailed Asheville 66-46 at the 7:23 mark of the second half after the Bulldogs’ Andrew Rowsey made fifth free throw of the night. The Chanticleers then pieced together a 13-2 run over the next 2:46, cutting the Bulldogs’ lead to 68-59. Elijah Wilson scored seven of his 13 points during the run, while Badou Diagne and Marcus Freeman also counted two point each.

However, Asheville kept the Chants at bay with a 7-2 run to reestablish a 14-point lead before Josh Cameron and Warren Gillis counted the final buckets of the game to provide the 75-65 final.

Both Coastal (14-5) and UNC Asheville (9-9) are now 5-2 in Big South Conference play and are tied atop the league standing with Gardner-Webb, High Point and Charleston Southern.

Shooting woes plagued Coastal in the first half as the Chanticleers struggled to a 33.3 percentage (8-of-24). Asheville was the polar opposite making 16 of its 30 attempts, including four 3-pointers, for a 53.3 percentage. The Bulldogs took full advantage of the Chants’ inability to score the basketball, building a 40-26 lead at the intermission. The halftime deficit marked Coastal’s largest of the season.

Coastal suffered three two-plus minute scoring droughts during the initial 20 minutes of play. Each time the Bulldogs pieced together a 5-plus scoring streak to put distance between themselves and the visiting Chanticleers.

The Bulldogs opened the second half on an 8-3 run, including six straight from Rowsey, to take a 19-point lead at 48-29 with just over 16 minutes to play. Asheville stretched its lead to game-high 20 points four times during the next nine minutes before the Chants mounted their comeback attempt.

Four players finished in double-figures for each team. Coastal was led by Gillis’ 14 points, while Wilson added 13. Cameron scored 11 for the men of Conway and Shivaughn Wiggins chipped in 10. Asheville was led by Rowsey’s 17 points, which pushed him to an even 1,000 for his career – making him just the second player in conference history to reach the milestone as a sophomore. Also in double-figure for the Bulldogs were David Robertson (14), Kevin Vannatta (13) and Will Weeks (10).

The Bulldogs closed the game shooting 51.0 percent overall, despite making only seven field goal in the second half. Coastal shot 39.6 overall, including 50.0 percent in the second half. Asheville controlled the rebounding battle 36-25, but managed only eight second-chance points.

The Chanticleers head to back home to The HTC Center to face the Presbyterian College Blue Hose on Saturday, Jan. 24. The game is slated for a 4 p.m. tipoff.

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