CONWAY, S.C. -- Senior forward Torrey Butler scored a team season-high 26 points to lead Coastal Carolina to a Big South opener win, 74-64, over Birmingham-Southern, Jan. 2 at Kimbel Arena. Coastal is now 7-5 on the year, including a perfect 5-0 mark at Kimbel Arena, while the Panthers drop to 6-5. The game does not count in the Big South standings, as BSC is still in its transition period to NCAA sports.
Birmingham-Southern jumped out on top early, grabbing a lead of eight on a pair of occasions early in the first half. BSC led 19-12 at the 10:57 mark before Coastal went on a 15-0 run in just over six minutes to take a 27-19 lead they would never relinquish. CCU led by as many as 11 in the first half and led by nine at the break, 40-31.
The Panthers came out clawing in the second half, never letting the lead above 11 and cutting it to three on a layup by Corey Watkins with 6:34 to play. However, Coastal would not be denied, as junior forward E.J. Gallup drained a three-pointer and a tip-in by senior forward Tony Darden pushed the lead back to eight in less than a minute-and-a-half. BSC made one last push on a three-pointer by Jakob Sigurdarson with 3:17 to play, but Butler gave CCU breathing room by converting the old-fashioned three-point play just 15 seconds later. The Chanticleers made good from the line down the stretch, hitting six-of-six free throws in the closing minutes. One other difference was the bench, as Coastal's bench tallied 22 points to BSC's three.
Gallup finished the game with 12 points, while senior forward Derrick Robinson added 10 points, including three-for-four from the field and four-for-four from the charity stripe. Birmingham-Southern was led by Derrick Williams with 17 points, while Sigurdarson and Josiah James each added 15.
Coastal takes six days off before starting a three-game Big South road swing. The Chants will open the trip at defending Big South champion Winthrop, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m.