Coastal makes late surge, battles past pesky Eagles

Senior forward Zac Cuthbertson scored a game-high 23 points and Coastal Carolina outscored North Carolina Central 8-4 in the final 2 minutes to earn a 69-65 win Sunday at the HTC Center to improve to 6-5 on the year.

The Chanticleers helped themselves down the stretch by making their last 12 free throws. Cuthbertson led the team in scoring for the 10th time in 11 games, and guards Aja Sanders, Trevion Brown added 10 points and David Kralj helped out with eight points.

Senior forward Raaasean Davis led NC Central with 15 points, and Julian Walters and Jibri Blount each scored 13 points for the Eagles, which fell to 4-8.

“Our team really battled today,” said Coastal head coach Cliff Ellis. “That’s a good basketball team, and their pressure really bothered us. We had a tough time getting shots, and we turned the ball over way too many times. The only way we were scoring at the end was by making free throws.”

Coastal finished 21-25 from the free throw line (84%). And after a torrid start from the field (7-11), the Chanticleers finished with a modest shooting touch, making 20-46 shots (43.5%).

Coastal held a 14-point lead, its largest of the game, early in the second half before NC Central roared back with a 14-0 run to tie the score at 46-46 with 8:25 remaining. Coastal turned things around with back-to-back layups by freshman reserve forward Isaac Hippolyte and Cuthbertson and hung on to go 4-0 at home this season.

Coastal jumped out to an early 11-2 lead, holding NC Central without a field goal for the first 4:30. Cuthbertson had 7 of those 11 points and had 10 points at the half when the Chanticleers led, 32-25.

NC Central only led briefly, at 22-21, before a pair of free throws by Brown regained the lead, and Coastal never trailed the rest of the way. There were nine ties in the contest, including three in the final four minutes.

The Chanticleers return to action at 7 p.m. Friday at the College of Charleston and have two more games on the road before returning home on Jan. 10 against Texas State.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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