FIU deals Chants first loss of season with buzzer-beater

Coastal Carolina lived by the buzzer-beater in its biggest win of the season, then died by it Saturday night in its first loss of the season, 64-62 against Florida International.

With the game tied in the final seconds, FIU’s Jeremy Allen hit a jumper as the final horn sounded to give the Panthers a victory over the Chanticleers (5-1).

Coastal was coming off a last-second win over Clemson in which senior Chris Gradnigo followed his own shot and got the putback to go down just ahead of the buzzer.

Florida International led by as many as nine in the first half, including 33-24 with 1 minute remaining, but Sam McLaurin scored on a pair of layups to cut the halftime deficit to 33-28.

McLaurin also scored back-to-back baskets to start the second half and make it a 1-point game, and Gradnigo gave Coastal its first lead of the game a short time later with a 3-pointer to make it 38-36 in favor of the Chants.

Coastal stretched its lead to as many as seven points, with a putback by John Pack making it a 50-43 score, but the Panthers came fighting back late in the second half.

Florida International tied it up on a layup by Phil Taylor and regained the lead on a 3-pointer by Jeremy Allen at 58-55 with 5 minutes left in the game.

The Chants recaptured the lead on a layup by Gradnigo at 60-58 and Pack added a free throw to make it 61-58 Coastal with 2 minutes remaining. But FIU tied it up for the fifth time of the night on a basket by Dominique Ferguson with 41 seconds left.

Coastal had a chance to win the game with less than 10 seconds remaining, but an Anthony Raffa jump shot fell short and FIU grabbed the rebound with 6 seconds remaining on the clock. After a frantic push down the court, FIU found an open Allen on the baseline where he drained the game-winner. The 15-footer left his hands with 0.1 seconds left on the game clock.

Gradnigo led the Chants with 15 points, Raffa scored 14 and McLaurin added 12 points and a team-high six rebounds.

Allen led all scorers with 19, including the game-winning 2 at the horn. Taylor scored 13, DeJuan Wright added 12 and Ferguson chipped in 10 for the Panthers (2-3).

Both team struggled from the charity stripe, with Coastal finishing 14-of-22 (63.6%) and FIU finishing at a 46.7% clip (7-of-15).

The Chanticleers return home on Thursday, Dec. 1, opening Big South Conference play against the VMI Keydets with tip-off slated for 7 p.m. at Kimbel Arena.

The loss does some damage to the lofty inter-conference start the Chants had made by beating Clemson of the ACC and LSU of the SEC last week.

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