Keydets knock out Chants in Big South quarterfinals

The Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team finally found away to keep from losing in the Big South Conference Tournament championship game this season, but not the way the Chanticleers had hoped.

After falling in the finals for the past two seasons and missing out on the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, the Chants (19-11) were shot down in the second round by VMI 85-68 on Wednesday in Asheville, NC.

The one-and-done appearance is a major disappointment to a program that is desperately trying to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. The Chants made it 0-for-19 with a loss to the Keydets, whom Coastal swept in the regular-season series.

VMI dominated the game almost from the opening tip, connecting on 14 3-pointers for the game to fall one shy f a Big South tournament record. The Keydets came out firing on all cylinders and the Chants had no answer.

VMI hit three straight 3s to jump out to a 9-2 lead and they built the margin of victory to double-digits before Coastal closed the gap at halftime to 43-47.

The Chants cut the lead to one point twice at 43-42 and 45-44 and had several chances to move in front before VMI caught fire again. The Keydets used a 10-0 run to push the lead back to 11 and they never looked back.

VMI’s Keith Gabriel scored a game-high 20 points and Jordan Weethee came off the bench to connect on 5 of 6 3-pointers for 15 points. Stan Okaye also added 15 points for the Keydets.

Coastal got a double-double from senior Sam McLaurin with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony Raffa tallied 12 points, Kierre Greenwood scored 11, and Gradnigo was held to nine points.

It was likely Coastal’s last game of the season barring an invitation to the CBI or CIT. Those postseason tournaments won’t be set until after next weekend’s Selection Sunday.

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