Raffa reaches 1,000-point milestone as Coastal rolls

Senior guard Anthony Raffa scored 14 points in the opening 9:40 of the game to reach 1,000 in his career at Coastal.

Raffa ended the night with a game-high 26 points while junior forward El Hadji Ndieguene added a season-high 16 points to lead Coastal Carolina to a runaway 96-40 win over outmanned Johnson & Wales Tuesday night at the HTC Center.

It was the third time in four games that Raffa has scored more than 20 points, lifting Coastal to 2-2 after back-to-back losses at Mississippi and Tennessee Tech. Johnson & Wales fell to 1-9.

Right from the start, Raffa enjoyed a hot hand. He scored the first five points of the game and he had 16 points through the first 11 minutes of the game, when Coastal held a commanding 29-13 edge. He became the 17th player in school history to reach 1,000 points (in three seasons) with a free throw at the 10:20 mark. The first-team preseason All-Big South player also collected nearly 300 points as a freshman at the University of Albany (N.Y.) before transferring to Coastal. He now has 1,283 points in his college career and 1,012 in a Coastal uniform.

Ndieguene, a 6’10” native of Senegal who transferred from Lake Land (Ill.) College, enjoyed a 4-inch height advantage over the tallest player from Johnson & Wales and he put it to use as he followed Raffa’s first points with a couple baskets that put Coastal in front at the start, 9-0. Johnson & Wales, a Charlotte branch campus of the main NCAA Division III school in Rhode Island, hit a 3-pointer to make it 9-3, but it wasn’t long before the Coastal margin grew from 29-13 to a 47-24 advantage at halftime. Rob Sterling, the Knights’ tallest player at 6-foot-7 picked up two quick fouls and played just five minutes of the half.

The Chanticleers dominated their visitors with smothering defensive pressure that held the Wildcats to just 14-58 shooting (24 percent) and 25 turnovers. Head coach Cliff Ellis already had nine players score in the first half, led by Raffa’s 18. The reserves played the final eight minutes of the game, and senior guard Charles Ashford reached 14 points coming off the bench.

“This was a good stepping stone for us after two tough losses,” said Raffa, the team’s leading scorer at 24 points a game. “We were focused on what we needed to do to get better and now we can feel good about ourselves going into Saturday.”

Coastal is back in action at home at 7 p.m. Saturday against Florida International, which is coached by Richard Pitino, the son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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