Wilson, Cameron tally 40 as Chants sink Catamounts

ccuhoops-camerondribbleCoastal Carolina freshman Elijah Wilson continued to shine, scoring a game-high 23 points and the Chanticleers withstood a couple of second-half runs by Western Carolina to down the Catamounts 76-68 Wednesday night inside The HTC Center.

The Chanticleers led nearly the entire way in improving to 3-5 on the season. Wilson had the team-high in scoring for the sixth time in eight games, shooting 11 of 15 from the field to reach the 20-point mark for the third time.

Meanwhile, junior Josh Cameron made his first start in a Chanticleer uniform and scored a season-high 17 points, including 10 of 11 from the free-throw line. Warren Gillis added 12 points and a team-high five assists, while Michel Enanga posted a double-double with 10 points and a team-best 10 rebounds.

Brandon Boggs scored 12 points to lead Western Carolina, which had already posted victories over Big South foes UNC Asheville and Liberty this season, but dropped to 5-6. Leading scorer Trey Sumler had 11 points, seven below his average.

The Catamounts got the first basket of the game, but Coastal scored the next 12 points to take an early double-digit lead. Five different Chants scored in the run and 10 point of the points came in the paint, capped by a transition layup by Cameron off a behind-the-back pass from Gillis that made it 12-2.

After Sumler hit a 3-pointer, Gillis answered with a trey and Enanga threw down a fast-break dunk off after getting an outlet pass from Eric Smith. Enanga converted the ensuing free throw for the three-point play to make it 18-7 with 12:12 left in the half.

CCU’s lead was still nine at 28-19 with under five minutes remaining, but the Chants went without a field goal for more than four minutes, allowing Western to make a run. A pair of 3-pointers by Tom Tankelewicz and Brandon Boggs keyed a 7-0 spurt that got the Catamounts within three. A putback basket by Colton Ray-St Cyr with 22 seconds left ended the Chants’ drought and made it 33-28 at halftime.

Coastal led despite committing 14 first-half turnovers, but they were helped by 50 percent shooting (12 of 24) compared to just 34 percent (9 of 26) for the Catamounts.

It was 40-37 five minutes into the second half when Wilson and Gillis ignited an 11-2 run. Wilson had six points on two layups and a dunk, while Gillis added a basket and two assists, including one on a 3-pointer by Smith for a 51-39 edge with 12:30 to play.

However, Western answered right back with an 11-2 spurt of its own, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from reserve guard Rhett Harrelson.

Cameron countered with a 3-pointer for the Chants and Ray-St Cyr followed with a jumper, but Western scored the next seven – including five by Sumler to make it a one-point game at 58-57 with 6:14 left.

After two free throws by Cameron, Tankelewicz hit the Catamounts’ sixth 3-pointer of the half to tie the game and then got a steal and made one free throw to give Western its first lead since its opening basket, at 61-60.

Undaunted, though, the Chanticleers scored nine straight points to regain control. Wilson hit a driving layup to give CCU the lead back on its next possession and Cameron added two more at the line for a 64-61 edge with 4:14 to go. Following an empty possession by each team, Wilson swished a jumper from the corner and Cameron converted a three-point play off of a driving layup to make it 69-61 with 2:04 remaining.

Western got as close as 71-67 in the final minute, but Enanga and Cameron combined to make five of six free throws to put it away.

Coastal did not shoot as well in the second half, but only committed seven turnovers in the final 20 minutes. The Chanticleers also owned advantages in the paint, holding a 43-34 rebounding edge and outscoring the Catamounts 40-24 in the paint. CCU finished 27 of 57 (47 percent) from the field, while Western was 23 of 59 (39 percent).

The Chants are right back in action at The HTC Center on Thursday, Dec. 5 as they take on North Carolina Wesleyan at 7 p.m., following the Coastal women’s game against Gardner-Webb.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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