CONWAY, SC - Coastal Carolinas mens basketball team bounced back with a 75-70 home victory over a very pesky VMI squad, 75-70, Feb. 5. With the win, CCU sweeps the season series and moves to 8-14 and 5-5 in the Big South Conference, while the Keydets fall to 5-14 and 0-9 in league play.
The game was tight through the first six minutes of the game, as the teams exchanged the lead three times and were tied on four separate occasions. With the score knotted at 11, Coastal put on a 9-2 run over the next 2:30 to take a 20-13 lead with 12:03 to play in the first half. The Keydets chipped away and eventually cut it to two at 32-30 on a three-pointer by Reggie Williams with 3:35 to go until intermission. However, the Chants made a late 9-5 push and went into the lockerroom with a 41-35 halftime advantage.
Coastal shot 51.9 percent (14-for-27) from the field in the first half, while the visiting Keydets hit on 54.2 percent (13-for-24). The difference was behind the three-point arc, as CCU hit 5-for-12 from three, while VMI was just 1-for-4. Coastal also converted eight Keydet turnovers into 10 points.
CCU was led by junior Pele Paelay with 14 points and four rebounds, while freshman Jack Leasure added nine. Williams led the Keydets with 11, while Matt Murrer chipped in five.
Coastal opened the second half on a 6-0 run to take its largest lead of the game at 47-35 with 18:20 to go in the game. However, VMI came back, going on a 7-0 run of its own to cut it to five at 47-42 just over four minutes later. CCU pushed it back to seven on several occasions in the second half, but the Keydets continued to fight back. Eventually, VMI took its first lead of the second half on a layup by Sean Christiansen with 6:04 left, putting the Keydets up 59-58. The Chants had an immediate answer, as they took the lead for good on Leasures three-pointer just 10 seconds later to go back up 61-59. VMI was able to get it back to one on two different occasions, but could not reclaim the lead, as CCU was 9-for-12 from the free throw line in the closing minutes.
Coastal cooled off in the second half, shooting just 11-for-29 (37.9 percent) and finished at 44.6 percent while the Keydets hit 53.1 percent from the field. One key was three-pointers as Coastal hit seven from the arc, compared to just one for VMI. Another difference was the boards, as Coastal outrebounded VMI, 37-25, including 15 offensive rebounds.
Paelay finished with game-highs of 23 points and nine rebounds, while Leasure had 20 points. VMI was led by Williams with 18, while Preston Beverly and Tim Allmond added 15 and 11, respectively.
Coastal will wrap up their stretch of four games in eight days by hosting Radford, Mon., Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. VMI hits the road to take on Charleston Southern, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.