Chants rally from 14-point deficit to down Keydets

ccuhoops-wilsonThe Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team overcame a 14-point halftime deficit to defeat VMI Wednesday night 83-78.

In a game that featured two of the top-scoring freshmen in the country it was CCU’s freshman Elijah Wilson who stole the show as he poured in a career-high 26 points while knocking down 11 of 16 shot attempts and going a perfect 3-3 from 3-point range.

VMI’s freshman guard Q.J. Peterson came into the game averaging a NCAA Division I freshman best 21.1 points per game but the Chants defense held him to just 14 points. Wilson spent most of the first half guarding Peterson and blocked three of his shots along the way.

For the 11th time this season the Chants had four or more players score in double-figures and CCU is now 11-0 in those games. Wilson led with 26 points, junior Warren Gillis chipped in 16, junior Josh Cameron had 15 and sophomore Badou Diagne added 12. Gillis led the team with six assists while pulling down five rebounds and picking up two steals. Cameron had a pair of rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal. Diagne led the team on the boards with eight rebounds while picking up an assist and a steal.

Coastal is now 15-10 on the season with an 8-3 Big South record while the Keydets fall to 14-10 on the year and 7-4 in Big South play.

CCU entered the game averaging over 14 turnovers a game but turned in a season-low three turnovers while dishing out 13 assists. Coastal forced nine VMI turnovers and also won the rebounding battle 43-42.

Both teams shot just over 40 percent from the field while Coastal burned the nets from 3-point range knocking down 10-17 from long distance. Wilson was a perfect 3-3 from three while Diagne, Gillis and Cameron all had two.

CCU came out struggling in the opening period as VMI raced out to a 15-4 lead over the first four minutes of play. Wilson scored 15 points in the opening period which kept the Chants hopes alive as the rest of the team struggled to find its rhythm. A pair of free throws by Cameron with 12 minutes left in the first pushed the Chants into double-figures as CCU trailed 22-11. A quick 8-0 run by the Keydets a minute later pushed VMI’s lead to 31-13, its largest of the game. Coastal was able to use a 13-4 run to cut the deficit to nine with 6:04 left in the first but VMI kept knocking down shots and eventually entered halftime with a 50-36 lead.

Coastal opened the second half with a 10-3 that featured a pair of 3-pointers, one from Diagne and one from Cameron, which cut the lead to seven. After a VMI three, the Chants continued to push and used a 9-1 run to cut the deficit to just two with 13:32 left in the game. The run was capped by a three from Diagne. Just minutes later a 3-pointer from Wilson tied the game at 60 with just under 12 minutes to play. Both teams would battle the rest of the half while exchanging single-digit leads.

With the game tied at 76, VMI’s Peterson drove the lane and made a nice layup to put the Keydets ahead 78-76 with 1:37 left. Wilson then knocked down a clutch 3-pointer with 1:16 on the clock with a man in his face to put the Chants up one. Peterson missed his answer attempt from long range and the ball trickled out of bounds giving CCU the ball with under 45 seconds to play. Coastal called timeout and set up a play with 37 seconds left on the clock. The Chants shot fell short and VMI rebounded the ball but a heads up defensive play by Cameron on the other end gave CCU the ball back as Cameron picked Rodney Glasgow’s pocket.

Cameron was fouled with under 10 seconds left on the clock. He knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Chants up 81-78. VMI attempted a long in bounds pass that was intercepted by Gillis who was fouled immediately. Gillis knocked down his free throws with two seconds left in the game. VMI did not try and make any play at the end giving CCU an 83-78 victory.

CCU returns to action this Saturday at 7 pm as the Chants host Gardner-Webb.

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