March 6, 2013
CONWAY - Coastal Carolina's guard trio has owned the headlines throughout the season, but the Chanticleers' first round game against Gardner-Webb in the 2013 VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Basketball Championships belonged to center Katelyn Connor. Connor scored a career-high 24 points to lead all scorers, but it was not enough as Gardner-Webb upended the Chants 64-60.
Gardner-Webb improved to 13-17 on the season and advances to take on top-seeded Liberty in a quarterfinal game at 8 p.m. on Friday. With the win, the Runnin' Bulldogs avenged two earlier losses to Coastal Carolina this season and became the first No. 9 seed to win in the Big South tournament, which was begun for women in 1987.
Coastal, winners of six of their last nine entering the contest, ended its season at 13-16 overall and 8-10 in Big South play. Junior guard AJ Jordan and sophomore guard Shatia Cole also were in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Angelica Henryled Coastal on the boards with 10, all coming on the defensive end of the floor.
Olivia Parker led the way for GWU as the freshman had a career-high 16 points to go along with 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, while Catrina Green chipped in her 11th double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the contest. Candace Brown recorded her third straight double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Chanticleers scored first to start the second half of play and took an early 32-28 lead on a midrange jumper from Connor with 17:55 to go in the game. A free throw by Brown seconds later jump started a 7-0 run by the Runnin' Bulldogs, highlighted by six straight points by Parker, pushed the visitors back in front by three at 35-32 with just over 16 minutes to play.
Coastal proceed to outscore the visitors 16-10 over the next seven-plus minutes with Connor accounting for 12 of those points. Cole then knocked down a trey and Jordan followed with a jumper to give Coastal a 52-45 advantage, its largest of the game.
It was then time for Gardner-Webb to answer back with a 13-5 run to regain the lead at 58-57 with just over a minute to play.
After Coastal Carolina retook the lead at 59-58 on a jumper on the right baseline from Jordan with 53 seconds to play, Parker hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 35 seconds The HTC Center clock to put the Runnin' Bulldogs on top 61-59. GWU then forced a Coastal turnover on the ensuing possession, forcing the Chants to play the foul game down the stretch. However, Mayhana Dunovant and Jasmine Dale knocked down late freebies to secure the victory.
Coastal won the opening tip and quickly jumped out to a 7-4 lead with Connor and Puckett providing the scoring. Two more free throws by Connor were all the points the Chants would muster over the ensuing 9:08 as Gardner-Webb pulled out to an 18-9 lead. Olivia Parker scored five points during the stretch, while Green poured in six on back-to-back-to-back possessions.
The Chants then responded with one of their patented runs, tying the score 20 before taking the lead a possession later on a mid-range jumper by Connor. Coastal finished the half on a 15-6 run as the teams retreated to the locker rooms deadlocked at 24.
The difference was on the boards where Gardner-Webb out-rebounded the Chanticleers 50-35 on the glass, including 16-10 in offensive rebounds.
Gardner-Webb Head Coach Rick Reeves
"Coastal just played their heart out, and I'm very proud of the game we played. When we executed, we looked pretty good.
"To be honest, I've been so focused on Coastal that I haven't thought about Liberty. It doesn't matter who we're playing, the fact that we're still playing is what matters. We feel we can match up with anyone out there."
Coastal Carolina Associate Head Coach Mark Kost
"It was a great effort by our team and by Gardner-Webb. It was another great game between the teams. We've had three of them this year.
"I'd like to thank our administration for having the faith in me when Coach (LeForce) took his leave, but I want to thank our players for playing hard for me. We had a great run down the stretch. It comes to a sudden halt in tournament play, and doesn't feel good right now, but I'm so proud of these young ladies.