Chants stop Gardner-Webb

Coastal Carolina’s Chris Gradnigo matched his career-high of 23 points and teammate Kierre Greenwood hit several key shots down the stretch as the Chanticleers (12-4 overall, 5-1 Big South) held off Gardner-Webb for a 65-63 victory Thursday night at Kimbel Arena.

Greenwood’s free throws with 4.4 seconds left proved to be the game-winners as the Runnin’ Bulldogs (9-10 overall, 4-3 Big South) misfired on a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end their late comeback bid.

On the ensuing possession, Tashan Newsome missed a contested 3-pointer from the right wing as time expired to give Coastal back-to-back wins for the first time since Dec. 16. It was the second straight game that Greenwood had the game-winning points after nailing a trey in overtime against Charleston Southern on Saturday night.

Coastal trailed 8-0 to start the game but responded with a 24-6 run over the next seven minutes to take a 24-14 lead with 9:08 remaining in the first half. Gradnigo scored 11 of his points during a 4:22 stretch to help erase the Chants largest deficit of the night. Coastal stretched its lead to game-high 11 points at the 8:22 mark on a tip-in by Danny Nieman.

With the Chanticleers leading by eight at the break the Runnin’ Bulldogs made a pair of baskets to cut the deficit to four during the first two minutes of the second half. Gradnigo would extend the lead to nine on a three-pointer at the 16:57 mark. GWU would reel off six-straight points to cut the margin to three on a Stefon Johnson layup with 14:45 left in the second half.

Coastal built the lead back to nine on another Gradnigo jumper with 12:27 left in the second stanza. Gardner-Webb would not go away, cutting the Chants lead to two on a dunk by Donta Harper with 9:35 remaining. Both teams were held scoreless for over four minutes until Jon Pack made a layup to put the Chants up four with 5:30 remaining.

Gardner-Webb (9-10, 4-3 BSC) broke a 6:17 scoring drought at the 3:37 mark with a Laron Buggs layup to put the Runnin’ Bulldogs down two. After a pair of Gradnigo free throws followed by a layup from Newsome, Nieman nailed a 3-pointer to put the Chants up five with 2:17. Buggs would respond with a trey ball of his own to pull back within two.

After the Bulldogs pulled the score within one, Anthony Raffa scored his lone point of the game from the free throw line to give Coastal a two point edge with fifteen seconds left. Raffa would then foul Newsome who nailed both of his free throws, tying the game for the first since the opening tip. Greenwood was then fouled driving in the lane where he scored the final points of the night.

Greenwood would finish the game 7-of-11 from the field while making all four of his free throw attempts. He also had game-highs with six assists and three steals.

Sam McLaurin added six points and six boards to go along with his game-high four blocks which moves him into a tie for first on the Coastal Carolina career blocked shots list. He is now tied with Joseph Harris with 142 career blocked shots.

Nieman, a 6-1 guard led the Chanticleers in rebounding (8) for the second time in the last three games.

Newsome had a game-high 11 boards while adding 21 points. Max Landis hit four 3-pointers for the Runnin’ Bulldogs to finish with 17 points on the night.

The Chanticleer defense would hold Gardner-Webb to a season-low 7-of-32 (21.9%) from the field in the first half, finishing the game shooting at a 33.9% clip. Coastal was held to under 40 percent from the field (39.7%) for only the third time this season.

The Chants return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. against visiting Presbyterian.

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