BIRMINGHAM, ALA. The Coastal Carolina University men's basketball team survived a late run by Big South Cobnference rival Birmingham-Southern to hang on for a 69-68 victory at the Bill Battle Arena in Birmingham, Ala., Monday, Jan. 24. The victory raised the Chanticleers record to 6-13 on the season and 3-4 in conference play while the loss drop Birmingham-Southern to 9-9 on the season, 2-5 in conference play. It was the third consecutive season that Coastal has defeated BSC on its own home court.
The game began very promising for CCU as an early three-pointer by freshman Jack Leasure (Rochester, NY/McQuaid Jesuit) gave Coastal the early 9-8 lead. Coastal continued the first-half push, as a three-pointer from junior Colin Stevens (Phoenix, Md./Delany) gave the Chanticleers a 24-15 lead with ten minutes left in the first half. CCU would lead by as many as 18 points in the opening stanza at 40-22 with 3:06 to play, before settling for a 44-29 halftime advantage. Leasure would knock down five three's in first half for 17 points at intermission, as Coastal hit a scorching 65 percent (17-for-26) from the field, including 7-for-13 from beyond the arc.
The Panther would not go out without a fight, as they started the second half on a 9-3 run lead by senior Jakob Sigurdarson (Reykjavik, Iceland/Westmister (Fla.) Christian) to cut the lead to nine at 47-38 with just over 14 minutes remaining in the contest. Birmingham-Southern then continued to chip away throughout the second half, as a pair of free throws by Sigurdarson would bring the Panthers ever closer at 55-50 with just over seven minutes left in the game. After making a free throw, Coastal pushed its lead back to six, but junior Thomas Viglianco's (Madison, Ala./College of William and Mary) three-pointer would cut the lead in half at 56-53 with just under seven minutes to play.
A layup by Pele Paelay (Derwood, Md./Magruder) would put the Chants up 62-57 with just over a four minutes left. But just as Coastal was trying to take control in the late stages with a 66-60 lead on Noah Nichols' (Upper Marlboro, Md./Bishop McNamara) layup with 35 second to play, BSC made one last push. A pair of free throws and a three pointer by Sigurdarson off a steal brought the Panthers right back at 66-65 with 24 seconds left in the contest.
With Coastal in the need of a leader, Paelay took the game on his shoulders, grabbing a key rebound and knocking down three of four free throws in the games last twenty-two seconds to put CCU up 69-65. Sigurdarson hit a desperation three as time exprired, but Coastal escaped with the 69-68 victory.
CCU were lead in victory by Leasure and Paelay. who each scored a team-high 21 points. Paelay also had a team-high five rebounds in the victory. Sophomore forward Moses Sonko (East Greenwich, R.I./Classical) had solid performance for the Chanticleers with 13 points. Fellow sophomore Adrian Gross (Galesville, Md./Southern) had a great defensive effort with three blocks for the Chants, including a exclamation block on Sigurdarson's layup attempt in the closing seconds for what could have been the game-tying score.
Birmingham-Southern was led by Sigurdarson, who almost single handily brought the Panthers back with 17 points in the second half and 26 points for the game. Viglianco was the only other Panther in double figures with 19.
Coastal will next be in action on Monday, Jan. 31 as they welcome conference rival UNC Asheville to the Kimbel Arena for a 7 p.m. contest.