Raffa tallies 27 but Chants suffer another narrow loss

The Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team fell in a one-possession game for the second-straight road contest.

After falling on a last second tip-in at Gardner-Webb in their last road adventure, the Chants fell 63-60 at UNC Asheville and had the ball with a chance to tie the game at the end Wednesday night.

The loss drops CCU’s record to 8-9 on the year and 3-3 in Big South play. UNC Asheville improves to 10-10 overall and 4-2 in BSC action.

Senior Anthony Raffa had one of the best first halves of his career Wednesday night as he scored 20 of the Chants 36 points. He was 8-of-11 from the field in the period and 3-of-5 from 3-point range. He also led the team with three assists and two steals in the period.

The second half was not as kind to Raffa as he hit just 3-of-11 shots from the field and 1-of-6 from 3-point range. He ended the game with a game-high 27 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Sophomore guard Warren Gillis scored 11 points and led the team with four steals. Junior El Hadji Ndieguene ended with six point and five rebounds while freshman Michel Enanga led on the boards with seven rebounds off the bench to go with four points.

UNCA was led by Jeremy Atkinson who had 16 points and nine rebounds. Keith Hornsby added 13 points while Will Weeks had 12. D.J. Cunningham led the Bulldogs with 11 rebounds.

The Chants were outrebounded for just the third time this season, 33-29. CCU also lost the battle of points in the paint 36-35. CCU shot 43.9 percent from the field and just 23.5 percent from 3-point range. The Bulldogs hit 46.7 percent of their shots from the field and 36.4 percent from 3-point range.

The Chants jumped out to a kick 2-0 lead after Raffa snagged the UNCA tip and took it in for two. The Bulldogs responded with an 8-2 run to take a quick four-point lead. The Chants never led the rest of the half but tied it up on six different occasions. The Bulldogs led by as many as seven points in the period but a 7-1 run by the Chants to close out the half cut the lead to just one, 37-36.

A pair of Gillis free throws gave the Chants their first lead of the second half just 23 seconds into the period. The lead bounced back-and-forth over the next few possessions until a 7-0 run by the Bulldogs gave Asheville a 52-46 lead with 13:13 to play. Both teams struggled offensively in the second half but Coastal was never able to regain the lead. CCU cut the lead to three on four different occasions including with 2:09 left in the game. Neither team scored over the final two minutes and the Chants had three separate possessions in that time with the score stuck at 63-60. A pair of missed 3-pointers and a missed layup on those possessions ended the Chants hope of a road victory.

The Chants are back in action this Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. as they host Campbell live on ESPN3. The Camels are 10-10 overall and 5-1 in Big South play after defeating Radford at home Wednesday night, 69-60.

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