Coastal’s Irick beats buzzer to topple Lady Highlanders

Olivia Irick was fouled as she made a layup with 2.4 seconds remaining and converted the ensuing free throw to lift the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team to a thrilling 58-56 victory over Radford in front of 673 fans at Kimbel Arena on Monday night.

The win snaps Coastal’s three game losing skid and lifts the Chanticleers to 10-5 overall and 3-3 in the Big South. Radford has now lost three straight and five of its last six to drop to 7-9 overall and 1-4 in conference play.

Trailing by one with 9.4 second to play, Irick received the inbounds pass near half court; proceeded to drive down the sideline before cutting baseline and getting a layup to fall as she was fouled.  The senior connected on her only free throw of the night to give Coastal a two point lead.  Radford’s desperation heave from mid-court was well off target to secure the Chants ninth home win of the season.

“This was a great win for our team tonight in a game that we needed win in order to get our season back on track,” said head coach Alan LeForce.  “We didn’t play great tonight but we got key shots out of Olivia and Shatia [Cole] and having Shanika [Maddox] back after missing the past four games helped us win the rebounding battle tonight.”

Irick led three Chanticleers in double-figures with 15 points on 6-of-9 from the floor as AJ Jordan scored 11 and Shatia Cole poured in 10.  Shanika Maddox and Courtney Grambley led Coastal with seven boards apiece.  Da’Naria Erwin Spencer paced all scorers with 24 points.

The Highlanders scored nine points in the opening 4:02 of the second half but were unable to take more than a three point advantage as Cole knocked down two key threes to twice draw Coastal back even.  Radford outscored Coastal by one over the next seven minutes to take a 47-46 lead as the teams nearly went shot for shot with each other.

Irick then ignited a 7-0 Chanticleer run over the ensuing 2:22 with her second trey of the game and 93rd of her career, which tied her for 10th all-time in the Coastal annuals.  The run saw Coastal take its largest lead of the night at 53-47 as Maddox and Grambley combined to sink three free throws and Cole hit a jumper.  Erwin Spencer halted the Chants momentum with a layup and sparked an 8-2 Highlander run to knot the score for the ninth and final time with 1:30 remaining in regulation.

Radford’s Ashley Buckhannon was fouled with 9.4 seconds left going for the rebound of a missed La-She’ Walker layup and sent to the line for two shots.  Buckhannon made the first freebie to give Radford their final lead of the night at 56-55, but missed the second leaving the door open for Irick’s heroics.

With Coastal trailing 11-10 in the first half, Irick scored her sixth and seventh points of the night to put the Chants back in front.  Angelica Henry and Maddox followed with two free throws apiece to push Coastal’s lead to five; however, Radford responded with 11-2 run of its own to retake the lead at 22-18 with 6:24 to play before the break.

The white and teal clad Chants then used back-to-back buckets by its freshman duo of Savanah Pippin and Jordan to pull back even at 22-all.  After three straight points by Erwin Spencer, Kayla Cook drained back-to-back jumpers and Henry added one of her own to give the Chants back an advantage they would hold for the remainder of the half.  Jordan and Maddox each added layups and Erwin Spencer scored Radford’s final four of the half to send the teams into the locker rooms with Coastal leading 32-29.

Coastal finished the night shooting a season-high tying 45.5 percent from deep on its way to a 43.1 percentage (22-of-51) from the floor.  Radford shot 43.6 percent (22-of-55) from the floor but only 37.5 percent (6-of-16) from the free-throw line.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

Coastal returns to action at High Point for the first three straight away from Conway on Saturday, Jan. 21. Tip-off from the Panthers’ Millis Center is set for 2 p.m.

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