LEXINGTON, VA. Coastal Carolina's men's basketball squad hit two free throws in the final 7.6 seconds to get a thrilling 99-97 Big South Conference win over host VMI, Jan. 15. The Chanticleers have now won 13 of their last 14 conference tilts and advanced to 10-7 overall and 3-1 in league play, while the Keydets dropped to 7-12 and 1-3 in the conference. CCU wrapped up five games in 10 days with a 4-1 mark.
The teams exchanged early baskets before the Chants went on a 9-0 run to take an 11-4 lead less than three minutes into the game and eventually made it a nine-point margin. VMI's full-court, high paced attack helped them close the margin down to just one at 28-27 with 9:43 to go in the first half. Coastal scored the next five points to stretch the lead back to six but VMI answered with five of its own to cut it back to one at 33-32 at the 7:53 mark. From there, Coastal went on a 13-0 run over the next 1:41 to make it 46-32 and eventually headed into the halftime lockerroom with a 60-49 advantage.
Coastal had as much as a 15-point lead in the second half at 68-53 with 17:37 to go. However, the national leaders in scoring at 101.5 points per game continued to attack and rallied. After trailing by 10 at 85-75 with 6:24 to go, the Keydets made their push and eventually re-took the lead at 92-91 with 2:18 to go in the game. Guard Joshua Mack's running jumper gave CCU back the lead at 93-92 and forward Matt Brennan's putback made it 95-92 with just 1:27 to go. A pair of Fred Robinson free throws cut the lead down to 95-94, but Mack hit another layup to put the Chants back up three with 1:03 to play. Chavis Holmes knocked down a three-pointer to knot it at 97. After a CCU turnover, VMI had the ball and worked to run down the clock. As Reggie Williams tried to drive with the ball, Mack came from the back side and stole it. His driving layup was blocked but guard Mario Sisinni grabbed the rebound and was fouled in the process. Sisinni knocked down the first to put Coastal up 98-97 with 7.6 seconds to play. His second rimmed off to the right but forward Joseph Harris got in front of the VMI defender and grabbed the offensive rebound. As Harris brought the ball out, he was fouled and hit the first free throw for a two-point lead with 5.0 seconds to go. The second went off to the right, where the Keydets grabbed it, drove and threw up a desperation three that fell short for the Coastal victory.
The Chanticleers were 37-for-61 (60.7 percent) from the floor, while also knocking down 20-of-26 (76.9 percent) of their free throws. VMI was just 41.7 percent (35-for-84) from the field, but were limited to just 28.0 percent (14-for-50) from beyond the three-point arc. Coastal outrebounded VMI 40-35, but the Keydets managed 23 offensive rebounds and scored 37 points off 27 Coastal miscues.
Harris led all scorers with a career-high 31 points, 21 of them in the first half, and made it a double-double with 11 rebounds. Mack added 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Jack Leasure chipped in 17 points and four boards. The Keydets were paced by Robinson's 25 points, while Reggie Williams and Chavis Holmes contributed 19 and 18 points, respectively.
CCU is now off until Sat., Jan. 20, when it hosts Big South rival Liberty at Kimbel Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.