CONWAY, S.C. -- Coastal Carolina's men's basketball squad squandered an eight-point halftime lead and lost the Big South Conference game to visiting UNC Asheville, 82-77, Feb. 22. With the loss, the Chanticleers fell to 15-13 and 7-6 in the Big South, while the Bulldogs advanced to 10-18 and 5-8 in the league.
The teams exchanged early baskets with the game tied at six early in the game. Coastal scored the next five points on a three by senior forward Moses Sonko and a jumper from sophomore forward Joseph Harris to take an 11-6 lead. with 15:34 to go in the first. UNCA came back to tie the game at 21 all but a 12-1 run over the next 3:21 gave CCU a 33-22 lead with just over two minutes to fo in the first. The Bulldogs did manage to trim the lead to just eight at 35-27 at the halftime break.
CCU held an eight-point lead two-and-a-half minutes into the second half at 41-33, but UNCA got hot from the floor, going on a 13-2 run to take a 46-43 lead with 13:20 to go. Coastal came back to take a brief lead at 52-51 with 11 minutes remaining, but a 9-0 run gave the visiting Bulldogs the lead for good at 60-52. Coastal did get to within two twice in the late minutes, but UNC Asheville, who hit 76.9 percent from the field in the second half, hit the shots in the late going for the win.
Coastal shot 46.8 percent (29-for-62) for the game, but UNCA was hot, knocking down 60.4 percent (32-for-53) of its shots from the floor, including 6-for-9 from the three-point arc. The Bulldogs won the battle of the boards 33-28, including outscoring CCU 14-6 in second chance points. Coastal committed only eight turnovers but they were costly, turning into 14 UNCA points.
Sonko led all scorers with a career-high 27 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the floor and 8-for-9 from the free throw line. Freshman guard Joshua Mack and junior guard Jack Leasure each added 16 points. UNCA had five in double figures, paced by 18 from junior guard K.J. Garland. Junior forward Vincent James had 15, while sophomore center Kenny George added 12 points off the bench on 6-of-7 shooting from the field.
The Chanticleers wrap up the regular season by hosting two-time defending champion Winthrop, Sat., Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. Coastal will honor its seniors before the game.