CONWAY, S.C. Third-seeded Coastal Carolina overcame a slow start to get a 50-35 victory over No. 6 Birmingham-Southern in the opening round of the 2006 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Womens Basketball Tournament, Mar. 7. With the victory, the Lady Chanticleers advanced to 18-9 on the season, while the Panthers finished at 12-16. Coastal will now travel to Lynchburg, Va. for the remainder of the tournament, taking on #2 High Point in the Fri., Mar. 10 at 8:30 p.m. on Big South TV. HPU defeated #7 UNC Asheville in a Big South record-setting game, 100-89, in High Point, N.C. tonight.
Both teams struggled from the floor in the first half, as the two teams combined for just 12 buckets in the opening stanza. Coastal scored the first five points of the game on a three-pointer by guard Amber Rose and a layup by guard C.J. Ware. However, the visiting Panthers battled back to tie it at seven on guard Stacey Anthonys three-pointer with 13:16 to go in the half. After another tie at 11, BSC took its first lead of the game on a free throw by Crystal Reed, but CCUs Kim Turner grabbed back the lead for the Lady Chants with a jumper to make it 13-12 with 7:25 to go until intermission. The two teams were tied again at 15, but Coastal rattled off the next four points to go up 19-15 with just over a minute to go. Birmingham-Southerns Reba Ross hit a layup to trim the halftime margin to just 19-17 Coastal.
Shooting picked up in the second half, with the Panthers coming out hot at the start of the second period, going on a 10-2 run over the first five minutes to grab their biggest lead of the game at 27-21. Anthony had four points and an assist during the early run. However Coastal battled back with a big run of their own, going on a 18-2 streak over the next six minutes, spurred by six points from Turner, to get its biggest lead at 39-29 with 6:26 to go in the game. Birmingham-Southern got no closer than eight the remainder of the way, as Coastal was 5-for-6 from the free throw stripe in the final 1:29 of the game.
Coastal hit just 32.1 percent (17-for-53) of its shots from the floor, but also limited BSC to just 24.1 percent (14-for-58) of its field goal attempts. Both teams struggled from the three-point arc, hitting just three each, but a major difference was the free throw line. The Lady Chants were 13-for-23 from the stripe, while the Panthers were just 4-for-8. CCU outrebounded BSC 45-43, with both teams grabbing 15 offensive rebounds. However, Coastal did a better job converting its second chances, outscoring the visitors 12-3 on second opportunities.
Coastals Turner led all scorers with 14 points, going 7-for-13 from the field, while Calisha Yates had eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Birmingham-Southern only had five players score in the game, led by Ross and Anthony with 10 points each. Ross added eight rebounds and Anthony seven.
COASTAL CAROLINA HEAD COACH ALAN LEFORCE:
"It was not a pretty game. The only thing that was pretty was the end result. Once we made two or three shots in a row and loosened up, we played Coastal basketball. The first game is the toughest. We got over the hump and played better in the second half."
BIRMINGHAM-SOUTHERN HEAD COACH BRAD HODGE:
"I thought our defense was great in the first half, but we had several times where we executed a backdoor cut but missed the lay-up. I thought that we forced Coastals poor shooting for most of the night, whereas our poor shooting was more a result of a lack of focus on our part. We also did a good job in our last two games of taking care of the ball, but committing 19 turnovers tonight doesnt give us much of a chance to win.