(story courtesy of the Big South Conference)
ROCK HILL, S.C. Craig Bradshaws lay-up with nine seconds left lifted the No. 1 seed Winthrop Eagles to a 51-50 win over No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina to win the 2006 Advance Auto Parts Big South Mens Basketball Championship Saturday in front of a crowd of 5,076 at the Winthrop Coliseum. With the win, the Eagles (23-7) capture the Big South Tournament title and the Conferences automatic bid NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in eight years. Coastal falls to 20-10 overall with the loss.
Winthrop controlled most of the first half, scoring its first 12 points on three pointers from Torrell Martin, Chris Gaynor and Phillip Williams. Coastals Colin Stevens kept it close for the Chanticleers, connecting on jumpers early to cut the margin to six at 12-6. A lay up by Otis Daniels at 10:29 spark a Winthrop run that pushed the Eagles lead to 22-13 at the 7:00 minute mark. Both teams went scoreless for three minutes until Moses Sonko connected on back-to-back free throws for CCU with four minutes remaining in the first stanza. The teams went back-and-forth for the last three minutes with Winthrop taking a 27-18 lead into the locker room.
Pele Paelay opened Coastals second half with seven quick points (one three-pointer and two lay-ups) to make it a two-point game at 27-25, which led to a 20-8 CCU run for the first 10 minutes. Gaynors triple pushed the Winthrop lead back to five at 15:55. But Colin Stevens tied the game at 33-33 with a trey, then Coastal took its first lead of the game on Steven Sextons three-pointer at 12:13, giving the Chants a one-point advantage, 36-35. Bradshaw tied the game at 39-39 with two free throws at 8:08. It was back-and-forth for next four minutes as the lead changed twice.
With the game tied at 47-47, Phillip Williams hit two free throws with under a minute left to push WUs lead out to 49-47. Stevens answered for Coastal with his fourth three-pointer of the half with :33.7 ticks left to give the Chanticleers the 50-49 advantage, but Bradshaw converted the game-winning field goal in the next possession and Coastals last chance ran out with the clock.
Martin led the Eagles with 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in the title game, and was named the Tournament MVP for the second-straight year. Stevens was Coastals top scorer with 18 points, while Sonko added 12 rebounds. Joining Martin on the All-Tournament squad were Winthrops Gaynor and Bradshaw and Coastals Paelay and Sonko.
Coastal, playing in its first Big South championship game since defeating Winthrop in 1993, falls to 3-1 in the title game. The game was the eighth meeting in League history between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the championship, and the No. 1 seed won its third-straight match-up and fifth overall. Winthrops 51 points were the fewest ever scored by the Tournament, while WUs seventh Tournament title extends its Big South record.