FeCONWAY, SC Coastal Carolina's men's basketball team opened the second half on a 27-6 run and cruised to a 78-61 Big South Conference win at Liberty, 78-61, Feb. 23. With their ninth consecutive victory, including four consecutive on the road, the Chanticleers moved to 17-9 and 11-4 in Big South play, while the Flames are now 7-21 and 3-12 in the conference. Coastal also snapped a four-game losing streak at the Vines Center and picked up its most wins in league play since the 1992-93 season when the Chants were 12-. CCU locked up no worse than the three seed for the upcoming Advance Auto Parts Big South Championship, while LU will be the eighth seed in the postseason event.
Liberty grabbed the early lead, building as much as a seven-point lead in the early going, 13-6 with 13:46 to go in the first. CCU chipped away and continued to battle, eventually taking the lead for good on a lay-up by forward Chad Ferguson to make it 31-30 with 2:31 remaining in the first half. After a free throw for Coastal, sophomore Jack Leasure canned a three-pointer and a jumper to make it 37-32 Coastal with under a minute to go. However, LU's Larry Blair hit a three to make it 37-35 at the intermission.
Both teams lit it up in the opening stanza, as Coastal hit 61.9 percent (13-for-21) while Liberty was 56.5 percent (13-for-23) from the field. CCU had the lead because of work at the charity stripe, as the Chants were 9-for-12 from the line in the first period.
Leasure led Coastal with 12 points in the first half, while guards Pele Paelay and Colin Stevens each chipped in five. LU was led by Blair's 12 points, while forward Rell Porter had 11.
Coastal blew the game open at the start of the second half, turning up the heat in "The Furnace" on both ends of the floor. CCU opened the half on a 27-6 run over the first 10:30 to take a commanding 64-41 lead. The Chants eventually built as much as a 29-point lead late in the game at 74-45 before removing the starters with five minutes to play.
For the game, Coastal hit on 63.6 percent (28-for-44) of its shots from the field, including shooting 65.2 percent (15-for-23) in the second half. Liberty was held to 43.8 percent from the floor (21-for-48) but was limited to just 32.0 percent (8-for-25) in the final period. CCU outrebounded their hosts 25-22 and was 76.2 percent (16-for-21) from the free-throw stripe. However for the second straight game, the difference was turnovers, as the Chants turned 13 LU turnovers into 23 points.
Leasure led the Chanticleers with a game-high 24 points, including four three-pointers. His four triples increased his season total to 115, tying KeKe Hicks (1992-93) for the CCU single-season record and puts him just two off the league record. Three others were in double figures for Coastal, as Paelay finished with 13 and Stevens and forward Moses Sonko chipped in 12 and 11, respectively. Blair, who was held without a field goal for the first 18 minutes of the second half, finished with 17, while Porter was the only other Flame in double figures with 14.
Coastal will wrap up regular season play, traveling to Radford, Va. to take on the Radford Highlanders for the regular-season finale, Sat., Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. With a victory, Coastal would be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big South Championship, hosting a home game in the first round, Tue., Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.