Feb. 28, 2011
No. 1 Coastal Carolina (26-4) vs. No. 8 Gardner-Webb (11-20)
Tuesday | 3.1.11 | 7:00 p.m.
Conway, S.C. | Kimbel Arena (1,039)
CONWAY, S.C. – In search of its first berth in the NCAA Tournament since 1993, the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team begins its quest for a Big South Tournament title Tuesday night at 7 p.m. when the No. 1 seed Chanticleers host No. 8 seed Gardner-Webb from Kimbel Arena.
Coastal Carolina (26-4, 16-2) closed the regular season Saturday with an 81-77 victory at Charleston Southern to set a record for the most league wins in Big South Conference history. The Chants surpassed the previous record of 15 league wins that was held by four different schools.
Sophomore guard Anthony Raffa scored a career-high 24 points and went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 1:14 to help the Chants finish the season with a perfect 9-0 record on the road in conference play. Coastal became just the second team in Big South history to go 9-0 on the road, and the Chanticleers are the only school in league history to win five conference road games by at least 20 points.
Senior Chad Gray poured in 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds against the Buccaneers and enters the Big South Tournament needing more points to become the 17th member of the Coastal Carolina 1,000-point club.
Junior guard Dexter Moore added 13 points and hit four three-pointers Saturday at Charleston Southern.
Gray, who was recently named to the All-Big South first team, ranks 10th in the Big South in scoring (14.1 ppg) and ninth in rebounding (6.3). The Kingstree, S.C., native is also sixth in the league with 1.30 blocked shots per game.
Raffa adds 10.9 points per game and is averaging 16.8 points over his last five games. Sophomore Sam McLaurin scored 7.2 points per game and stands eighth in the Big South with 6.7 rebounds per game. The 2011 member of the Big South All-Academic Team is also second in the league with 1.79 blocks per game.
Gardner-Webb enters the Big South Tournament on a two-game winning streak after defeating Radford and High Point in its final two games of the regular season. The Runnin’ Bulldogs finished the regular season with an 11-20 overall record and a 6-12 mark in the Big South and will be in search of their first three-game winning streak of the season Tuesday night against the Chants.
As a team, Gardner-Webb ranks ninth in the Big South in scoring with 61.7 points per game, but have scored below its average in six of its last nine games. The Runnin’ Bulldogs, however, rank third in the league in scoring defense by holding their opponents to just 66.0 points per game.
Individually, senior guard Jon Moore leads Gardner-Webb and ranks 11th in the league with 14.0 points per game. Moore has also made a team-high 51 three-pointers this year and shoots 33.6 percent from beyond the arc. Junior guard Laron Buggs is second on the team with 10.0 points per game, while junior forward Josh Henley is tied for 11th in the conference with 6.0 rebounds per game. Luke Davis, who was named to the All-Freshman team, is third in the league with 4.26 assists per game.
Coastal Carolina and Gardner-Webb will be meeting on the hardwood for just the eighth time when the two teams tipoff Tuesday evening. The Runnin’ Bulldogs are 4-3 against Coastal in the all-time series that dates back to the 1983-84 season. Gardner-Webb won the first three meetings between the two schools, but the Chants have claimed three of the last four meetings.
Coastal Carolina and Gardner-Webb have met twice already this season and each team has won on the other’s home floor. The Chanticleers turned in a 58-55 win Jan. 22 at Paul Porter Arena, but Gardner-Webb defeated Coastal 59-57 earlier this month (Feb. 15) to snap the Chants’ national-best 22-game winning streak. Gardner-Webb is also 2-1 all-time against Coastal in Kimbel Arena.
Coastal Carolina and Gardner-Webb have never met before in the Big South Tournament.