Chanticleers beat Bulldogs; Ellis claims historic victory

ccuhoops-ellisoutCoastal Carolina used a 15-2 run at the onset of the second half to break open a close game as the Chanticleers dealt the visiting UNC Asheville Bulldogs a 68-52 loss Tuesday evening inside The HTC Center.

The win, which vaulted the Chants into a five-way tie for third in the Big South Conference, was head coach Cliff Ellis’ 150th on the Chanticleers sideline. The monumental victory made Ellis the only coach in NCAA Division I history to win 150 or more games at four different universities. Ellis won 171 games at South Alabama, 177 at Clemson, 186 at Auburn and is currently 150-95 in his eighth season in Conway.

Josh Cameron led all scorers in the game with 18 points on 4-of-8 from the floor and 9-of-13 from the free-throw line as the Chanticleers improved to 16-7 on the season and 7-4 in conference play. Also scoring in bunches on the night was Elijah Wilson with 15 points, which included a trio of 3-pointers. Tristian Curtis also posted a big night with 10 points and 10 rebounds, marking his first career double-double.

Asheville (11-11, 7-4 Big South) was led by Corey Littlejohn’s 14 points and David Robertson’s 10. Coastal managed to limit Andrew Rowsey, who entered the game as the Big South’s second-leading scorer at 19.0 point per game, to six points.

After playing even with Asheville through the first 20 minutes, Coastal broke out of its shooting slump in the opening eight minutes of the second half and surged to a 44-29 lead via a 15-2 run. The run featured by a pair of hard-earned baskets in the paint by Marcus Freeman on back-to-back possessions before Wilson capped the streak a minute later with a fast break 3-pointer from the left wing at the 11:20 mark.

Asheville cut Coastal’s lead to nine points two times over the ensuing three minutes, but each time the Chanticleers responded with a points of their own to keep the Bulldogs at bay. Coastal twice led by as many as 18 during the remainder of the contest. Asheville scored nine of the game’s final 12 points in the final three minutes, but the Chants’ separation was too great.

Both teams went through extended field goal droughts in the opening 20 minutes of play as the clubs combined to shoot 17-of-55 from the field. Asheville made 10 of its 30 shots, while the Chants connected on seven-of-25. However, Coastal made up the difference at the free-throw line, making 12 of its freebies compared to Asheville’s 10 total attempts.

Coastal trailed 11-4 before going on a 11-0 run on three baskets and four free throws to take a 15-11 lead at the 11:14 mark. The Bulldogs then used a 3-pointer by Kevin Vannatta and two by Littlejohn over the next 10 minutes to establish a 23-20 lead. Coastal’s Cameron then scored the game’s next five points at the charity stripe before Asheville’s Ahmad Thomas scored a runner in the lane a jammed home a fast break dunk to give the visitors a 27-25 lead 33 seconds prior to the half. However, CCU’s Warren Gillis would answer with a mid-range jumper of his own on the Chants’ final possession of the half to send the teams into the locker room tied at 27.

The Chanticleers remain at The HTC Center to face conference leader High Point on Friday, Feb. 6. The game, which is slated for a 9 p.m. tipoff, will be carried live on ESPNU.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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