Coastal Unable to Overcome Early Deficit Against Liberty
Jan. 4, 2014
CONWAY - After falling behind by as many as 28 in the first half, Coastal Carolina outscored Liberty by 14 over the final 20 minutes of play; however, it would not be enough as the Flames held on for a 71-62 victory in women's basketball action on Saturday afternoon at The HTC Center.
Coastal trailed by 23 at the half, but rallied to pull within nine with just over a minute to play in regulation. However, five Liberty free throws iced the game and sent the Flames back to Lynchburg, Va., with a 8-6 (4-1 Big South) record. The loss, which broke Coastal's unblemished league record, drops the Chants to 8-6 overall and 4-1 in Big South play.
Coastal's Megan Pittman, who finished 5-of-10 from beyond the arc, led all scorers with a career-high 19 points. Angelica Henry scored 13 despite sitting much of the first half with foul trouble. AJ Jordan added 10 points, marking her 12 double-digit scoring effort of the season. Jordan also led Coastal on the boards with a team-high nine.
Liberty was led offensively by Reagan Miller's season-high 18 points and Ashley Rininger's 13-point, 11-rebound double-double.
Liberty quickly jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game before Coastal's Karsen Sims made the Chants' first 3-pointer of the afternoon. The Flames then reeled off an 18-0 run over the next seven minutes, taking a 25-5 lead. Alexx Puckett and Pittman sank treys on back-to-back possessions for the Chants, cutting the Flames lead to 27-11. However, the momentum would not shift as the Flames closed the half on a 19-12 run to take a commanding 46-23 lead into the locker room.
Coastal suffered its worst single-half shooting performance of the season, while Liberty flourished from both the inside and the perimeter. The visiting Flames closed the half shooting 56.3 percent from the floor, including a 5-of-13 mark from 3-point land. The Chants shot 19.4 percent from the field and did not connect on a 2-point field goal until Jordan got a jumper to fall with 1:29 to play before the intermission.
The Chants used a 46.9 shooting percentage, including a 7-of-14 effort from 3-point land to shoot themselves back into the game after the half. Coastal opened the second stanza on a 21-13 run over the first 11 minutes of play, trimming Liberty's 23 point lead to 15 at 59-44 with 8:04 showing on the clock.
Coastal then turned up its defensive pressure and forced Liberty deep into the shot clock on its next two possessions, but each time the Flames were bailed out by jumpers from Miller. Following a Rininger free throw at the 4:51 mark, Coastal's Jordan scored on a fastbreak in the lane and Henry connected on a pair of treys to outscore Liberty 8-1 and bring the Chants within nine points with 1:05 remaining.
Coastal was then forced to foul the Flames, sending Miller to the line where she made both. On Coastal's ensuing possession, Pittman made her fifth 3-pointer of the game, bringing Coastal within eight for the first time since the 17:40 mark of the first half. However, Liberty would make three free throws over the next nine seconds of play before Henry scored on a layup with eight ticks remaining to provide the final 71-62 score.
The Chanticleers finished the game 21-of-63 (33.3 percent) from the floor and 12-of-28 (42.9 percent) from three. Liberty shot 25-of-54 (46.3 percent) on the afternoon. The Flames, who entered the contest with a +17.5 rebounding margin, controlled a 42-32 advantage on the boards and outscored the Chants 30-12 in the paint.
Coastal Carolina has the next week off before traveling to Campbell for a 1 p.m. tipoff on Saturday, Jan. 11. Liberty returns to action on Thursday, Jan. 6 hosting Gardner-Webb.