CONWAY, SC The Coastal Carolina men's basketball team posted its fifth win in the last six games, defeating defending Big South champion Winthrop, 64-50. With its 10th victory in 11 home contests, the Chanticleers advanced their record to 11-9 and 5-4 in the Big South while Winthrop fell to 14-6 and 8-2 in league play. CCU has now swept the season series with the Eagles. The Chants also have their best 20-game record since the 1993-94 team was 12-8, while the 10 home victories are the most since the 1992-93 team went 11-2 in Kimbel Arena.
Winthrop's Craig Bradshaw opened the game with a layup to put Winthrop up 2-0, but that was the only lead the Eagles would enjoy in the first half. Coastal rattled off five straight points on a layup by forward Joseph Harris and a three-pointer by guard Pele Paelay to go up 5-2 with 16:40 to play. After the lead was cut to one on another Bradshaw layup, CCU went on an 8-0 run, including triples by guard Jack Leasure and Paelay and a jumper by forward Moses Sonko, to lead 13-4 less than six minutes in. WU would cut the lead to three on two separate occasions, but CCU pushed the lead out the remainder of the half. Coastal eventually finished the half on a 25-foot three-pointer by Paelay as time expired to go into intermission with its biggest lead of the half at 34-23.
CCU shot 48.1 percent (13-for-27) in the opening half, while Winthrop was held to 40.0 percent (10-for-25). The Chants hit six three-pointers to just one for Winthrop while also holding an 18-12 advantage on the glass.
Paelay led CCU with 11 at the intermission while Leasure and guard Mario Sisinni each added six. Forward James Shuler had eight at the break while forward Phillip Williams chipped in six off the bench.
The Eagles came out like a team on a mission in the second half, cutting quickly into the Coastal lead with seven unanswered points in just over two minutes to cut the CCU lead to 34-30. Coastal pushed it back to nine at 39-30 on five straight points by Leasure, but another surge by Winthrop, this time 13-2 over the next six minutes, gave the Eagles their first lead of the second half at 43-41 with 11:10 to go. Sonko hit a pair of free throws for Coastal to tie the game and then the Chants took the lead for good on a three-pointer by Paelay with 10:25 to play to make it 46-43. The game was close for the next five minutes with CCU leading by just 53-50 after guard Torrell Martin canned a three-pointer with 6:30 to play. But that was the last points WU would have in the game, as Coastal shut the Eagles and scored the last 11 points of the contest for the victory. Sonko's layup with 2:26 to go gave CCU a 60-50 lead that closed the door on any potential comeback.
The Chants finished the game hitting 49.0 percent (24-for-49) from the field, including going 43.5 percent (10-for-23) from the three-point arc. Winthrop finished at 44.4 percent (20-for-45) from the floor, but just 21.1 percent (4-for-19) from beyond the three-point line. Coastal won the battle of the boards, 31-21, and turned 11 offensive rebounds into a 16-6 advantage in second chance points.
Paelay led all scorers with 19 points to become the 13th Chanticleer in history to reach the 1,000 career point mark and added seven rebounds. Sonko and Leasure each chipped in 14. Guard Colin Stevens had a team season-high 10 assists, while Harris added six points and a game-high eight rebounds. Winthrop was paced by Martin with 13 points, while Shuler, who also reached the career 1,000-point plateau in the game, and Bradshaw were the only other players in double figures with 10 each.
Coastal will be back in action quickly, hosting High Point, Mon., Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. Winthrop will next play host to VMI, Wed., Feb 8 at 7 p.m.