CCU seeks fourth straight win; Ellis goes for No. 800

ccuhoops-shawjThe last three games have been very good to Coastal Carolina’s basketball team, as those three games have ended in a CCU victory.  The Chanticleers will look to carry that momentum into Saturday afternoon’s game when Appalachian State visits the HTC Center.

CCU (8-9. 3-1 Sun Belt) enter the game in second place in the conference standings after their three consecutive victories.  The largest difference has been on the defensive end of the court.  The Chants have been extremely stingy with the opponent’s offensive opportunities and in the past three games has only given up 53, 65 and 63 points.

An over-riding factor with the team’s defense has been their consistent rebounding, especially on the defensive end where CCU is hauling in 74 percent of the opponent’s missed shots as CCU averages 42 rebounds per game. Leading that way continues to be junior Demario Beck, who is averaging over eight rebounds per game and has three double-doubles (points, rebounds) on the season.

Offensively the Chants have struggled at times getting the ball through the net, but have found a way to slowly show improvement shooting basketball as they now average 42 percent from the field and 36 percent on their three point opportunities.

While Elijah Wilson’s 14.2 points per game average continues to be the team-leader, it has been the immergence of junior guard Jaylen Shaw that has picked up this team’s offense. He is coming off a week which saw him shooting 59 percent from the field and 67 percent beyond the three point line and with his 20 points per game average had him named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week, becoming the first player to receive that honor from CCU in the new conference.

Shaw’s 13.9 points per game average is second on the team, but he is shooting a strong 45 percent from the field, 39 percent on his three’s and his 88 percent free throw shooting leads the conference.  For good measure is continues to be among the top five assist-players in the conference averaging 4.4 per game and also has 22 steals. Along with his rebounding, Beck averages 9.5 points per game and is tied with Amidou Bamba for the team lead in blocked shots with 13.

The Mountaineers (6-9, 1-3 Sun Belt) enter the contest hot off the heels of picking up their first conference win of the season, a 70-57 decision over Arkansas State. Appalachian State has one of the top scoring offenses in the conference averaging 76.4 points per game.  Their .363 three point shooting percentage is second in the conference as they make 8.8 threes per game.

The Chanticleers next win will also be the 800th career win for Head Coach Cliff Ellis.  Entering his 10th season at CCU, Ellis entered the campaign with 791 career wins, meaning the ninth win of the season would put Ellis in an elite group of coaches. Ellis started his coaching career at Cumberland out of Tennessee where he picked up his first 78 wins over three seasons.  From there he moved on to South Alabama and picked up another 171 wins over nine seasons.

Following his time in Mobile, Ala., Ellis took the job at Clemson University and 1984 and coached the Tigers until 1994 picking up another 177 wins. His previous stop before coming to Conway was at Auburn University.  Over the span of 10 seasons, he picked up another 186 wins.  Entering this season, Ellis had picked up 179 wins at Coastal Carolina, making him the only coach in NCAA history to win at least 170 games at four different programs.

Saturday’s game is a 4:30 p.m. tip and is part of a Sun Belt double-header with the CCU women’s team who tips off their game at 1 p.m.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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