Men's Basketball Wins Battle Against Winthrop, 50-49
CONWAY, S.C. -- Freshman forward Anthony Breeze knocked down a pair of free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining to lift the Coastal Carolina men's basketball team to a thrilling 50-49 Big South Conference victory over defending champion Winthrop, Feb. 6. With their second straight win and third league win in the closing seconds or overtime, the Chanticleers advanced to 11-10 overall and 4-4 in Big South play, while the Eagles dropped their second straight to fall to 14-9 and 5-3 in the league.
Winthrop grabbed the early lead in the game, going up 10-4 with 13:23 to go in the first, led by a pair of buckets by George Valentine. The Chants then scored the next six points on buckets by Breeze, senior David Long and sophomore Logan Johnson to knot the game at 10 and take its first and only lead of the first half on the three-point play conversion by Johnson. The game was tied again at 11 and 14 before the visiting Eagles went on a 13-5 run to close out the first half, capped by a Valentine layup, to lead 27-19 at the intermission.
The lead was pushed to 10 on the opening basket of the second half by Charles Corbin, but donning the teal jerseys for the first time ever at home, Coastal answered with the next six points, including four by Johnson, to make it 29-25 with 18:10 remaining. Winthrop continued to lead until a bucket by Breeze and a three-pointer by junior Steven Sexton tied it at 35 with 11:05 to go. From there, no team led by more than four the remainder of the way, as there were six ties and seven lead changes in the final 11 minutes. With the game tied at 44, Winthrop took the lead on a three-pointer by Byron Faison with 3:27 remaining. Breeze's dunk cut it to one and a pair of free throws by junior Mario Sisinni put Coastal up 48-47 with 2:21 to play. WU re-took the lead on free throws by Chris Gaynor to go up 49-48 with just over a minute to play. A Coastal turnover gave the ball back to the Eagles, but they were unable to connect on a three-pointer with 29 seconds to go and the Chants came away with one last chance. After a 30-second timeout, CCU worked the ball to Breeze on the high post and he took it strong to the basket and was fouled on the play. From there, the Greenville, S.C. native hit both free throws to put the Chants back up, 50-49. Winthrop got it to midcourt and called a timeout with 4.7 seconds left. The ball was inbounded to Michael Jenkins, whose shot hit off the front rim with time expiring before Gaynor could get another shot off.
Coastal shot just 37.0 percent (17-of-46) but were 52.4 percent (11-of-21) in the second half. Winthrop was held to just 33.3 percent (20-of-60) from the field and 29.0 percent (9-of-31) in the final period. CCU got to the line more effectively, hitting 11-of-16 (68.8 percent), while WU was just 5-of-10. The Chanticleers won the battle of the boards, 41-33, but gave up 17 turnovers that CCU limited to just 10 Eagle points.
CCU was led by Johnson with a career-high 16 points, his second-straight game with a new career best, as well as eight rebounds. Breeze tallied 15 points, includuing the game-winning free throws, and a career high-tying nine boards. Winthop was led by Jenkins, Faison and Antwon Harris, who each contributed eight points. CCU will head on the road for a two-game road trip, taking on VMI at Cameron Hall, Sat., Feb. 9 at 1 p.m., followed by a trip to Radford, Mon., Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.