Chants win Big South battle of first place over Campbell

ccuhoops-gillisdribble (2)The Coastal Carolina University men’s basketball team used a suffocating defense in the second half to come away with a 61-58 victory at Campbell University Saturday afternoon.

The game pitted the top ranked team in the Big South Conference North Division versus the top ranked team in the South Division on ESPNU. A pair of Campbell big men scored 24 of CU’s 32 first half points. Once Coastal made halftime adjustments those two players came away with one point in the entire second half.

The win is the fourth-straight for the Chants and improves their record to 13-9 and 6-2 in conference play. The Camels fall to 11-12 overall and 5-3 in conference action.

CCU’s backcourt trio of Warren Gillis, Josh Cameron and Elijah Wilson combined for 44 points in the victory. Gillis scored a game-high 18 points for the second-straight contest while Cameron and Wilson each chipped in 13 points. Gillis also had five rebounds and a team-high four assists. Cameron turned in a team-high five steals while Wilson had four rebounds.

Sophomore Badou Diagne scored eight points and had a team-high seven rebounds on his 21st birthday. Four of his eight points came on monster dunks in the second half. Diagne was 4-6 from the field including 4-5 from inside the 3-point line.

CCU had just seven turnovers the entire game, a season-low for the Chants, and dished out nine assists. Marked just the fifth time this season that the Chants turned in more assists than turnovers.

Coastal also won the rebounding battle 42-35 including taking a 20-6 advantage in second chance points due to 19 offensive boards.

Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field including CCU shooting 36.4 percent and Campbell hitting 37.5 percent.

In a game that never featured a double-digit lead the Chants led almost the entire game. Coastal opened the scoring with a jumper from Gillis and then the two teams would trade three-straight 3-pointers which would be CU’s only leads of the first half at 3-2 and 6-5. Down 6-5 the Chants began a 7-0 run capped by a Gillis 3-pointer. A 3-pointer by Wilson with 10:48 left in the first gave CCU its largest lead of the first half at 19-12. The Camels slowly cut away at CCU’s lead eventually cutting it to three at halftime, 35-32.

The second half was another tight one with Campbell opening the period with an 11-6 run to take its largest lead of the game at 43-41. CCU answered with six-straight points capped by a Uros Ljeskovic layup. Coastal would hold the lead the rest of the game but the Chants could never pull away as the Camels continued to keep it close.

With 1:57 left in the game, Gillis hit a pair of free throws to put the Chants up seven. Campbell made two-straight 3-pointers and held the Chants scoreless to cut the lead to just 59-58 with 21 seconds left. CCU inbounded the ball to Cameron who was fouled. He knocked down both of his free throws to put the Chants up three with 16 seconds left. After a timeout the Camels set up for their final play. A 3-pointer fell short and Cameron secured the rebound and the victory.

The Chants now hold the best conference record in both the North and South Divisions. CCU will host High Point University this Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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