Men's Basketball Continues Home Court Strength With 81-67 Win Over McNeese State
CONWAY, S.C. -- Senior forward Moses Sonko (E. Greenwich, R.I./Classical) and junior guard Jack Leasure (Rochester, N.Y./McQuaid Jesuit) each tallied a team season-best 24 points to lead Coastal Carolina to an 81-67 non-conference win over visiting McNeese State at Kimbel Arena, Tue., Jan. 2. With the win, the Chanticleers evened their record at 6-6 entering Big South Conference play, while the Cowboys dropped to 5-9 on the year. Coastal is now 20-1 in Kimbel Arena under second-year head coach Buzz Peterson, including having won all 12 non-conference games he has coached in the building.
Coastal opened the game on a 14-4 run in the first five minutes of the contest, including a pair of triples and eight total points from Leasure, and never trailed in the game. The Cowboys did trim the first half lead to 21-16with remaining, but CCU answered with another quick seven-point spurt in the next to push the lead out to 12 at 28-16. After splitting some baskets down the stretch, CCU entered the halftime lockerroom with a 42-34 margin. Leasure led all scorers in the half with 16 points, including four three-pointers.
McNeeseState immediately trimmed the lead to six on a jumper by Rorey Lawrence just 13 seconds into the half, but back-to-back three pointers by Leasure pushed the lead back to 12 at 48-36 just a minute and a half later. The visiting Cowboys showed fight with a 16-6 run of their own to cut the lead to just two at 54-52 with to go. CCU continued to go back and forth for the next four minutes as the lead was cut to just two on two other occasions, but CCU had offensive success, both from the field and the free throw line, in the next five minutes to make the lead 70-60 with 3:27 to go. Coastal continued to hit its free throws over the final three minutes, knocking down 7-for-8 while also getting a pair of layups to seal the victory.
The Chanticleers shot 46.4 percent from the floor but were even more impressive from the three-point arc, hitting 8-for-15 (53.3 percent). McNeeseState hit 45.0 percent (27-for-60) from the field, but were just 5-for-15 from the three-point line. After going 0-for-4 in the previous game from the free throw line, Coastal got the line a season-high 27 times in the contest, hitting 21 of them (77.8 percent), with the visitors going just 8-for-9 at the charity stripe. The Chanticleers got outrebounded 40-25 in the game by the bigger Cowboys, but the home squad forced 21 turnovers while only giving up eight and converted those 21 miscues into 19 points.
Sonko posted his third straight double-double and fifth of the year by adding a game-high 13 rebounds and also contributed four assists, four steals and one blocked shot. Leasure, who knocked down a season-best six three pointers in the game, also added three assists and two steals. Four other CCU players contributed at least five points each in the win, led by freshman guard Joshua Mack (Hopkinsville, Ky./University Heights) with eight points, three rebounds and three assists. McNeeseState was led by Troy Aaron with 19 points on 9-for-15 shooting, while Jarvis Bradley chipped in 11. Quentin Gonzales grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his six points for the Cowboys.
The Chanticleers open Big South Conference play at Kimbel Arena this Saturday, Jan. 6 at , hosting in-state rival Charleston Southern. Coastal swept all three meetings last year, including the win in the Advance Auto Parts Big South Semifinals. However, the two regular season games were decided by a combined three points.