Chants push past South Alabama in first round

Chants push past South Alabama in first round

Story courtesy of Coastal Carolina Athletics 

NEW ORLEANS – It was a day of firsts for the Coastal Carolina University men's basketball team in their 80-67 win over South Alabama in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

The game was CCU's (16-16) first game in the Sun Belt Conference and the win was the first tournament win as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.

Senior Elijah Wilson led a balanced scoring attack with 16 points, led mostly on his ability to knock down four of his eight three point field goals.  In the process, Wilson scored his 1,800th career point becoming only the third Chanticleer to reach that milestone.

Jaylen Shaw also had a solid scoring game with 14 points and tied with teammate Colton Ray-St Cyr in game-high honors in assists with seven.  He also had a game-high three steals.

Two other players reached double digits and both came off the bench to reach those numbers.  Amidou Bamba and Josh Coleman combined to go eight-of-12 from the field and four-of-seven at the free throw line in scoring 10 points each.

The Chanticleers added another first this year as the team's 25 assists on its 29 made field goals was a season-high, only three off the school record of 32 set twice, once in 1993 and in 2005.

CCU shot 48 percent from the field (29-61), but struggled from the free throw line only hitting 11 of its 17 attempts for 65 percent.

The Chanticleers also made Sun Belt Conference Tournament history by knocking down 11 of its 16 three point field goals, setting a new Sun Belt Conference Tournament record of 68.7 percent.  The old record was held by former Sun Belt member Alabama-Birmingham back in 1983 of 63.6 percent.

The Chants defense held South Alabama (14-18) to 41 percent shooting, and the Jags only hit seven of its 31 three point field goals for 23 percent.

Ken Williams led USA with a game-high 18 points while Nick Stover added 11 and Shaq Calhoun scored 10.

After trailing by as many as six (27-21) midway through the first half, CCU went on a 15-4, three minute run to turn that deficit into a 36-31 lead.  The Chants then went on to lead 44-32 at halftime, making their run over the last 12 minutes a 23-5 run.

CCU shot 52 percent (16-31) from the field including hitting seven of 10 of their three point attempts.  CCU only shot eight free throws making five.  Of the 16 made field goals the Chants had 15 assists.

It was a well-rounded offensive half as all nine players that saw action scored led by Shaw and Demario Beck, who had seven points each.  The Chants did get out-rebounded 24-18.

USA shot 40 percent in the first half and at one time hit four consecutive three point field goals to help build their early lead.  Williams had 11 points and Josh Ajayi came off the bench to hit two three's and had six points.

CCU will get back to work as they now face the tournament's top seed in Texas Arlington.  The two teams split in the regular season series with each winning on its home court.  UTA defeated CCU 90-69 in Arlington back on Dec. 31.  It was CCU's first conference game as a member of the Sun Belt.

The Chants returned the favor knocking off the Mavericks 72-70 in Conway on Jan. 30.  The two teams will tip off at 11:30 a.m. Friday, March 10 in a game that will once again be shown live on ESPN3.