Lady Chants snap 45-game losing slide against Liberty

ccuwhoops-GibsonFor the first time since February 19, 1996, the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team defeated Liberty, downing the Flames 58-51 Saturday at the Vines Center to end Liberty’s 45-game winning streak over the Chants.

The streak had previously stood as the second-longest active stretch against a conference opponent in NCAA Division I women’s basketball, following Stanford’s 60 straight wins over fellow Pac-12 member Washington State.

It is the Chants’ third win in their past four games, and first time this season that Coastal (10-15, 5-11) has won consecutive games against a Big South opponent. Liberty (15-10, 12-4), meanwhile, suffered its second straight loss after putting together an eight-game winning streak from Jan. 16 – Feb. 9.

Coastal led the game from start to finish, taking an 18-point lead into halftime and holding on to win despite being outscored 27-16 while shooting 13.8 percent from the floor in the second half.

Ced Gibson led all players with 20 points, marking the fourth time in Coastal’s last five games that the junior guard has scored 19 or more. Gibson finished 7-of-16 from the floor with a trio of 3-pointers, and made all but one of her four shots from the line. The High Point, N.C., native also dished out a game-leading six assists, her second time reaching that mark in Coastal’s last four.

Nicole Isaaacs drained four of Coastal’s 10 baskets from beyond the arc while shooting 6-of-16 from the floor overall to finish with 16 points and extend her streak of reaching double figures to five games. The senior guard tied her sister, Stephanie Isaacs, for the team lead in rebounds with five.

Kennedy Archer turned in a career performance with 14 points, including all five of Coastal’s points in the third quarter. The freshman guard essentially sealed the game for Coastal in the fourth, hitting two key free throws with 16 seconds remaining to put the Chants in front by six.

Coastal turned in a dominant first-half performance, outscoring Liberty 42-24 in what was the Chanticleers’ highest-scoring first half against a Big South opponent this season. For the majority of the half the Flames struggled to break Coastal’s press, and turned the ball over 13 times leading to 19 Chanticleer points. The Chants shot 48.6 percent from the floor in the first half – including 57.9 percent in the second quarter – while draining eight of their 19 shots from beyond the arc.

For the second consecutive game Gibson got off to a hot start, scoring eight points before the five-minute mark of the opening quarter, including six points from beyond the arc. Isaacs also put up a pair of 3-pointers, and Archer added one more to give the Chants a 17-12 lead at the end of one.

The 3-pointers kept coming for the Chants in the second as Gibson and Isaacs hit consecutive triples to start the quarter. The duo combined for 19 of the Chants’ 25 second-quarter points, including the first 13. Liberty, meanwhile, struggled to move past half court, turning the ball over on 11 of its 19 possessions.

Coastal’s 3-point shooting dried up in the second half as the Chants converted just 2-of-17 attempts from beyond the arc, and managed only two other baskets from inside. CCU’s remaining six points came on 10 attempts from the free throw line.

The defense picked up the slack, however, following its eight first-half steals with five more in the second as Liberty continued to have turnover troubles, giving up the ball 12 times over the final 20 minutes and six times in the fourth quarter.

In addition to its turnovers, the Flames faced troubles at the free throw line, making 9-of-19 for the game and only 4-of-12 in the second half.

The Chants will look to win their third straight game – and third straight home game – on Tuesday when Coastal returns to The HTC Center to host Presbyterian for a 7 p.m. tip. Coastal’s previous two home games resulted in the Chants winning by at least 20 points against High Point and Charleston Southern, respectively.  – Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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