CONWAY, S.C. -- Coastal Carolina's men's basketball squad used quality defense and offensive rebounding to overcome early shooting woes in earning a 70-65 Big South Conference victory over visiting Liberty, Jan. 20. The Chanticleers have now won their last 15 games at Kimbel Arena and 14 of their last 15 regular season conference tilts and advanced to 11-7 overall and 4-1 in league play, while the Flames fell to 7-12 and 1-4 in the conference. This is just the fourth time CCU has been 4-1 or better in league play in the program's history.
After Coastal got the game's opening bucket on a jumper by junior guard Jack Leasure, the visiting Flames went on a 9-0 run over the next five minutes to take its biggest lead of the game at seven with 14:45 to go in the first. Coastal came back to cut it to one at 9-8, but LU had a pair of baskets to take a 13-8 lead with 9:08 remaining in the first half. CCU's defense took over from there, forcing 15 LU turnovers in the first half and limiting the visitors to just two more field goals the remainder of the half. Over the rest of the half, the Chanticleers outscored the Flames 20-4 and, despite just shooting 35.3 percent, went into the halftime intermission with a 28-17 margin.
Liberty battled back in the second half, cutting into the lead until it had put together a 12-4 run and the lead was down to 32-29 less than six minutes into the second half. Coastal extended the lead back out and built its largest lead of the game on junior guard Everage Richardson's layup to make it 52-38 with 5:47 remaining in the contest. CCU carried a double-digit lead for most of the remainder of the half until a furious late rally by the Flames. Coastal had a 66-55 lead with just 41 seconds to play, but LU senior guard Larry Blair scored five of the Flames' 10 points in that span, but a pair of buckets by sophomore forward Joseph Harris, including a dunk on the final play, sealed the win for the Chants.
CCU finished the game hitting just 42.2 percent (27-for-64) from the floor while Liberty shot 51.0 percent (25-for-49) from the field. LU had a 36-33 advantage on the board, but Coastal grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and cashed those in for 22 second-chance points. Another big difference came on turnovers, as the Chants forced 25 miscues and turned those into 25 points, while giving up just seven points on their 14 turnovers.
Harris posted his second straight double-double with team highs of 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting and 10 rebounds. Leasure and senior forward Moses Sonko chipped in 13 and 12, respectively, while Richardson and freshman guard Joshua Mack each tallied eight. Blair led all scorers with 26, while Alex McLean had 14 points and 10 boards for the Flames.
CCU will return quickly to the court, hosting Big South co-leader High Point at Kimbel Arena, Mon., Jan. 22. Tipoff will be at 7:30 p.m. following the CCU women taking on Birmingham-Southern at 5 p.m.