Chants open Big South play with big win at High Point

ccuhoops-curtisCoastal Carolina’s Big South opener at High Point featured the reigning conference tournament champion in the Chanticleers and reigning regular season champions in the Panthers; however, it was the Chanticleers that flexed their collective muscle with an 83-68 victory at the Panthers’ Millis Center on New Year’s Eve.

Coastal (10-3, 1-0 Big South) led wire to wire, including a game-high lead of 21 with 1:34 to play in regulation. The Chanticleers shot a season-high 54.9 percent (28-of-51) from the field, including an impressive 10-of-15 performance from beyond the arc. Coastal also won the rebounding battle 33-28.

CCU, which was voted as the league’s preseason favorite, finished with five players in double-figures led by Josh Cameron’s 18, which included four 3-pointers. Elijah Wilson scored 14 and Tristian Curtis added 12, while both Badou Diagne and Shivaughn Wiggins contributed 11. Curtis and Diagne both narrowly missed double-double as they each collected nine rebounds.

The Panthers were led by Lorenzo Cugini and Adam Weary’s 16-point efforts. Big South Preseason Player of the Year John Brown, who entered the game averaging nearly 19 a game, was held to 12 point on 5-of-10 from the floor.

Coastal opened the second half leading High Point by nine, but it took just two possessions -dunks by Diagne and Wilson, respectively — for the Chanticleers to regain its double-digit lead they enjoyed for much of the first half. After a pair of Brown free throws, the Chanticleers continued its offensive onslaught. The Chants rolled off seven unanswered points, leaving the black and teal-clad visitors with an 18-point lead at 56-38 with 16:24 to play.

HPU countered with an 11-6 run of its own over the ensuing 6:33, cutting the Chants’ lead to 12. However, Coastal halted the Panthers’ momentum with 10-3 run, which included threes by Cameron and Michel Enanga and a mid-range jumper by Diagne. The scoring streak staked Coastal a 72-53 run with less than six minutes to play.

The Chants connected on eight free throws down the stretch to seal the game. HPU’s Devante Wallace made a 3-pointer with 29 seconds to play, providing the 83-68 final.

Coastal scored on five of its first six possessions en route to an 11-5 lead over the opening four minutes of play. Following two HPU baskets, Coastal used an 8-0 run, highlighted by 3-pointers from Cameron and Wilson, to extend its lead to 11 points at 19-9. From there Coastal would continue its sharp shooting and limit the Panthers in the paint in building as much as a 15 point lead at 38-23 with 3:42 to play before the break.

The Panthers then chipped away at the Chanticleer lead over the final minutes of regulation. Cugini capped HPU’s 11-5 half-ending run with a fade away three as the game clock expired, sending the teams into the locker room with Coastal holding a 43-34 lead.

Coastal connected on 17-of-29 shot attempts, including a 7-of-10 mark from deep, in the first half, while also winning the rebounding battle 21-11. The Panthers were 14-of-32 in the half, including a 5-of-7 effort from Cugini.

Coastal continues its grueling Big South season opening schedule with a home game against 2012-13 regular season champion Charleston Southern. The Chants and Buccaneers tip at 2:00 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 3.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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