Chants fall in showdown for first place at UNC Asheville

With first place in the Big South Conference on the line, so was UNC Asheville.

The Bulldogs hit 31-of-33 free throws to Coastal Carolina’s modest 9-for-14 to score an 88-81 victory over the visiting Chanticleers on Tuesday night.

Coastal (13-5 overall, 6-2 Big South) trailed by nine at halftime, 38-29, but came out hot in the second half and eventually tied the game at 51-all with 14 minutes to play,

But the Bulldogs (13-6, 8-0) went back up by 11 with 5 minutes left and withstood Coastal’s attempts to come back. The Chants got within seven in the final minutes but couldn’t withstand UNCA’s hot hands at the foul line.

UNCA’s J.P. Primm, who had a game-high 23 points, went a perfect 8-for-8 at the charity stripe, while Matt Dickey, who finished with 19 points, went 12-for-13 on the night. Two other Bulldogs scored in double figures – Chris Stephenson with 17 (4-for-4 from the line) and Jeremy Atkinson with 15 (5-for-6 from the line) as the starting five shot 94 percent from the free throw stripe.

Coastal had six players score in double digits, led by Sam McLaurin’s 17 points, six rebounds and one block, which gave him the school record in the latter category. Kierre Greenwood scored 15 points with six boards and five assists; Jon Pack had a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards; Anthony Raffa was held to 13 points; and Danny Nieman and Chris Gradnigo added 11 apiece.

The Bulldogs beat Coastal for the third time in their last four meetings – the last time to secure the Big South Conference Tournament title and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Midway through conference play, UNCA appears to be the team to beat again if the Chants hope to reach their first NCAA Tournament since 1993.

The Chants return home for their next game at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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