Big South Roundup, Day 2: Lady Chants make early exit

The Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team followed the men’s squad with a first-round exit of the Big South Conference Tournament on their home court.

Gardner-Webb outscored Coastal Carolina 6-1 in the final 37 seconds of the game to take a 64-60 upset win over the Chanticleers in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference women’s basketball tournament Wednesday.

Gardner-Webb improved to 13-17 on the season and advances to take on top-seeded Liberty in a quarterfinal game at 8 p.m. Friday. With the win, the Runnin’ Bulldogs avenged two earlier losses to Coastal Carolina this season and became the first No. 9 seed to win in the Big South tournament, which was begun for women in 1987.

Green scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds while Parker collected a season-high 16 points and 10 rebounds. Parker also hit a 3-pointer (only her eighth of the year) that put Gardner-Webb in front to stay, at 61-59, with 37 seconds remaining. Junior guard Jasmine Dale sealed the victory with two free throws in the final seconds. Candice Brown also had a double-double for the Bulldogs, with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Coastal ended the season at 13-16 in spite of a career high 24 points from senior center Katelyn Connor. Senior guard AJ Jordan and sophomore guard Shatia Cole also were in double figures with 11 and 10 points respectively.

The two teams traded scoring runs in the first half before settling for a 24-24 tie at halftime. Green led an 11-0 run for Gardner-Webb that lifted the Runnin’ Bulldogs to an 18-9 advantage halfway through the period. Then Cole and Connor combined for 9 points in a 13-2 spurt that propelled Coastal into the lead at 22-20 with 2:40 left in the period.

Neither team held more than a 4-point lead in the second half until Conner hit eight straight points for Coastal to give the Chanticleers the lead at 52-45 with 7:47 remaining. Gardner-Webb then outscored Coastal 19-8 the rest of the way.

* Longwood 70, Charleston Southern 63: Senior guard Erin Neal scored a career high 22 points and senior backcourt mate Crystal Smith made five free throws in the final 22 seconds to help Longwood to seal a 70-63 win over Charleston Southern in a first round game of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference women’s basketball tournament Wednesday.

Longwood improves to 12-18 on the season and advances to the quarterfinal round at noon on Friday against Winthrop. It was the third time Longwood has defeated Charleston Southern on the year. Charleston Southern, which was led by senior forward Lakeitha Alston, who had 18 points and 13 rebounds, finished the season at 8-20. Longwood came into the tournament as the #7 seed while Charleston Southern was the #10 seed.

Smith, Longwood’s leading scorer on the year, hit for 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds. She made 5-6 free throws to close the scoring after Charleston Southern had pulled to within 65-63 on Shay Jones’ 3-pointer with a minute remaining. Jones also finished with 18 points.

The teams were tied at 40-40 before Longwood broke on top to stay on a driving layup by Daeisha Brown, who finished with 12 points. Longwood inched away to a 6-point margin at 54-48 but Jones and Zhaquondalee Greer rallied the Buccaneers to get close down the stretch.

Longwood jumped out to an 18-8 lead before Alston scored 8 points in a 14-3 run to give Charleston Southern to a 24-21 advantage with 4:34 left in the first half. The two teams were even at the half, 33-33. The score was tied eight times and the lead changes hands twice before Longwood pulled in front for the last 14 minutes.

* Radford 56, UNC Asheville 39: Diani Mason came off the bench to score 14 points and Radford defeated UNC Asheville 56-39 Wednesday in the first round of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference women’s basketball championship at The HTC Center.

The sixth-seeded Highlanders (15-13) held Asheville to 26 percent shooting and scored 25 points off 25 Bulldog turnovers.  Senior forward Sarah Tabb added 12 points and 9 rebounds for Radford, which finished with a 32-12 edge on points in the paint.

Eleventh seed Asheville (2-28), which lost six players to season-ending injuries over the course of the year, dropped its 21st-straight game.

After leading 32-21 at the break, Radford extended the margin to 15 before the first media time out.  Asheville closed to 46-39 when Gentry Manley made the second of two foul shots with 2:38 to play, but got no closer.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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