CONWAY, S.C. - Coastal Carolina Universitys mens basketball team came out running early and made it stand, defeating Winthrop University 76-68 at Kimbel Arena in the opener of Big South play for both squads, Jan. 5. With the win the Chants improve to 4-9 and 1-0 in conference action, while the Eagles fall to 9-5 and 0-1 in conference play.
After Winthrop grabbed the early lead at 6-2 in the first two minutes, the Chanticleers got it rolling, going on a 22-5 run over the next 6:44 to grab a 24-11 lead with 11:38 to play in the first half. Coastal maintained a double-digit lead throughout the most of the half, but led by just nine, 40-31, at the intermission. The 40 first half points scored by CCU were the most Winthrop has given up in the opening half this season.
Both teams were strong offensively in the first half, as the Eagles hit 58.3 percent from the field, while CCU was 51.7 percent from the field includiing 53.8 percent from the three-point arc. Coastal freshman Jack Leasure (Rochester, N.Y./McQuaid Jesuit) knocked down four three-pointers in the opening stanza and finished with 14. Winthrop was led by Junior Otis Daniels (Greenwood, S.C./Gardner-Webb) with 12 points and four rebounds.
The Eagles came out of the lockeroom firing and was able to close Coastals lead to five at 15:44 on Torrell Martins (Columbia, S.C./Airport) jumper . Sparked by junior Pele Paelays (Derwood, Md./Magruder) aggressive play, including eight points and one steal over th enext six minutes, the Chants surged back to a 60-44 advantage with 9:26 left to play. Winthrop clawed their way back into the game cutting the Chants lead to nine with 3:10 left to play, but could not sustain the momentum as the Chants offensive play down the stretch was the difference. The Chants forced the Eagles into late fouls and converted their chances, going 6-for-8 from the line in the last three minutes of play. WUs Michael Jenkins (Kinston, N.C./Kinston) three pointer pulled the Eagles within seven with just 34 seconds left in the contest, but CCU held on.
This was the first win for the Chanticleers in the last three meetings, with Coastal holding a 31-24 advantage overall. Even though Winthrop out rebounded Coastal 39-34, Coastal was able to convert 16 Winthrop miscues into 21 points and outscored the Eagles 18-5 on the fast break.
Offensively, Leasure led all scorers with career-best 24, while Paelay added 17 points and senior Alvin Green (Socastee, S.C./Socastee) chipped in 14. Daniels was the leading scorer for the Eagles with 18 points, while grabbing seven rebounds. Martin and Scott Draughn (Hamden, Conn./Hampden Prep) each added 14.
The Chants hit the road for their next two Big South Conference games, beginning at Radford, Sat., Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. Winthrop opens Big South home play against Liberty, Sat., Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.