CONWAY, SC The Coastal Carolina men's basketball team led most of the way in picking up its first Big South Conference win of the season, defeating visiting UNC Asheville, 84-72, Jan. 16. With its seventh consecutive home win, the Chanticleers moved to 7-8 and 1-3 in the Big South while the Bulldogs dropped to 3-12 and 1-4 in conference action.
UNC Asheville got the opening basket of the game off Joe Barber's jumper, but that was the only lead the visitors would have in the contest. There would be ties at two, four and six, but then the Chanticleers went on a 17-1 run over the next 4:28 to take a 23-7 lead with 11:33 to go in the first half. UNCA cut the lead to nine twice in the half, including 37-28 with 1:51 to go, but the Chants held a 41-30 lead at the intermission.
Coastal blistered the nets in the opening stanza, hitting 68.2 percent (15-for-22) from the field while holding UNCA to just 36.4 percent (12-for-33). The Bulldogs stayed in the game through rebounding, as they outrebounded the Chants, 17-16, including 11 offensive rebounds. Coastal also hit five three-pointers, while UNC Asheville hit on just one.
Coastal was led by guard Pele Paelay with nine points, while guard Jack Leasure and forwards Joseph Harris and Moses Sonko each added six points. UNCA was led in the first half by Garrett Moles with 10 points, while Michael Ellis added nine.
The visiting Bulldogs would not go away, cutting the lead to eight on six different occasions in the early parts of the second half, including 51-43 with 15:59 to go. CCU then rattled off the next five points on a jumper by Sonko and a three-pointer by guard Steven Sexton to go up 13 at 56-43. The teams exchanged baskets until 9:43, with CCU leading 62-51. The Chanticleers stepped up on both ends and put together a 10-0 run over the next four-and-a-half minutes to take a 21-point lead at 72-51 with 5:08 to go. UNCA did manage a late run of its own, cutting it to 76-65 with 2:05 to play but could get no closer, as the Chants 5-for-6 from the line in the final minute to seal the game.
Coastal finished the game at 57.7 percent (30-for-52) from the field, while UNCA finished at 44.6 percent (25-for-56) in the game. Coastal outrebounded the visitors 34-30 and did a better job converting turnovers, as the Chants held a 22-16 advantage in points off turnovers. Coastal also outscored UNCA 34-18 in the paint and got 14 fastbreak points to just six for the Bulldogs. UNCA did manage to go to the free throw line more than Coastal, going 31 times, but converted just 18, while Coastal was 16-for-22 at the charity stripe.
The Chanticleers had five players in double figures, led by Paelay with 15, while Sexton, Harris and Sonko each scored 14, with Harris and Sexton posting season highs. Leasure added 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds in the game. Ellis finished the game with a season-high 28 points, while Moles was the only other player in double figures for UNCA, finishing with 10.
Coastal returns to the floor, Thu., Jan. 19, hosting Charleston Southern in the second of three games in six days. Tip-off at Kimbel Arena is 7 p.m. UNC Asheville returns home for a homestand, hosting VMI at the Justice Center, Sat., Jan. 21 at 4:30 p.m.