Coastal defends BSC title, returns to NCAA Tourney

IMG_9165For the second time in as many seasons, the Coastal Carolina University men’s basketball team is heading to the NCAA Tournament after posting an 81-70 victory over Winthrop University Sunday in the title game of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Basketball Championship.

The No. 3 seeded Chanticleers and No. 5 Eagles played to a 38-38 halftime tie, but Coastal Carolina (24-9) posted the first seven points of the second half and never looked back en route to the fourth Big South Tournament title in program history.

CCU outscored Winthrop 43-32 in the deciding second half and shot 52.0 percent (13-25) in the period compared to the Eagles’ 35.5 percent (11-31).

The Chanticleers crashed the glass and held a +11 (43-32) edge on the boards in the game. CCU also enjoyed a 27-8 advantage in bench scoring.

Senior guard Warren Gillis led the Chanticleers with a game-high 22 points and six assists in 36 minutes on the floor. Gillis was one of four CCU student-athletes in double figures.

Sophomore guard Elijah Wilson poured in 19 points and was named the Big South Tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 20.3 points during the Chanticleers’ three-game run to the title.

Senior guard Josh Cameron added 19 points and junior forward Badou Diagne dropped in 11 for CCU. Junior forward Tristian Curtis grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, which marked the fourth-highest rebounding total ever in a Big South Tournament final.

Sophomore guard Keon Johnson led Winthrop (19-13) with 18 points in the game while freshman forward Xavier Cooks chipped in the second double-double of his career with 14 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.

Winthrop and Coastal played to a 4-4 tie over the game’s first five minutes, but from that point, the Chanticleers used a 9-0 run over the next 2:03 to move in front, 13-4. Winthrop answered back with a 9-2 run of its own to cut the lead to two (15-13), but CCU extended the edge back to seven (26-19) with 7:05 to play in the half.

With Coastal Carolina leading 30-21, back-to-back 3-point players from Cooks and Johnson moved Winthrop back within three (30-27). From there, the Eagles used a 6-0 run to tie the score at 35 with 1:09 to go in the stanza. Cameron hit a triple to put Coastal up three with seven seconds to play in the half, but Andre Smith’s 3-pointer at the buzzer for Winthrop banked in to send the teams into the break knotted at 38-38.

CCU shot 43.3 percent (13-30) in the half while Winthrop made 11-of-27 attempts (.407). Gillis led the Chants with 14 first-half points while Moore and Johnson each tallied eight for the Eagles.

The Chanticleers scored the first seven points of the second half and led 50-40 with 13:36 to play in the contest. A lay-in from Shivaughn Wiggins pushed the CCU lead to 13 (62-49) and a 3-point play from Wilson extended it to 16 (70-54) with 4:59 to go. The Eagles would not move closer than nine (74-65) for the remainder of the game.

With the victory, CCU improves to 4-3 all-time in Big South Tournament title games while Winthrop falls to 10-3.

Wilson was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Gillis, Winthrop’s Keon Moore, Gardner-Webb’s Jerome Hill and Longwood’s Shaquille Johnson.

Photo Credit Joel Beachum

 

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