Coastal plays giant-killer at Kimbel, knocks off LSU

Coastal Carolina coach called Tuesday night’s game against SEC foe LSU the biggest home game in school history.

Now he can amend that statement to make it the biggest home win in school history.

Playing before a packed house at 1,000-seat Kimbel Arena, the Chanticleers (3-0) knocked off the Tigers 71-63 to send the home fans into a frenzy. Coastal knocked off LSU (1-1) last year in overtime, but this one was more special in the Chicken Coop.

“Without question the biggest win at Kimbel Arena because of who we played,” Ellis said after the game. “I’m glad our fans got to see it.”

Coastal’s Anthony Raffa scored a game-high 20 points, but none bigger than his 3-pointer with about 7 minutes remaining. The Tigers were on a 14-2 run that cut the Chants’ deficit to 52-51, but Raffa’s trey sparked a 9-2 run by Coastal that allowed the Chants to seal the deal.

Raffa closed the run with a pair of free throws that made it 61-53 with 2 minutes remaining and the Chants hit their free throws down the stretch to hold off LSU.

Coastal led most of the game, but LSU jumped out to an early nine-point lead that looked like another SEC team flexing its muscle against a Big South school. But the rest of the game was all Coastal, especially on the boards.

Coastal outrebounded LSU 53-34, the key difference on the stat sheet. Sam McLaurin pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds and he and Kierre Greenwood scored 13 points apiece. Raffa added 10 boards to go with his 20 points to record a double-double.

CCU newcomer and Louisiana native Chris Gradnigo saw little action against the Tigers after picking up his second foul just 4 minutes into the game. After LSU jumped out to an 18-9 lead, Coastal Carolina, the defending Big South Conference champion, closed the first half on a 25-6 run to take a 34-24 halftime lead.

“What I liked most was we didn’t panic,” Ellis said. “They got out to an early lead and Chris got into early foul trouble, but we didn’t panic and we got some great help from our bench. We actually took the lead while our bench was in there.”

Gradnigo returned to make a key steal and assist to Raffa that gave the Chants their biggest lead at 48-34, but he quickly picked up his third foul and returned to the bench. That’s when the Tigers got hot and cut the deficit to a single point before Raffa and the Chants pulled away in the end.

John Pack, who scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds, converted a 3-point play late that put the game away at 66-60 with 50 seconds remaining in the game.

Coastal plays another home game on Friday against Spalding before traveling to face an ACC foe in Clemson on Nov. 22.

Ralston Turner scored 15 points to lead the Tigers, who are staying in the Palmetto State to play in the Charleston Classic this weekend.

Photo by Randall Hill Photography

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