CONWAY, S.C. – Junior forward Aja Blount collected 29 points and pulled down 11 rebounds as Coastal Carolina withstood a late challenge to earn a 67-59 win over UNC Pembroke Thursday night at the HTC Center. Coastal improved to 2-1 in the early season, while UNC Pembroke slipped to 1-2.
Blount was helped out by 10 points from senior guard Tiarra Davis and 10 steals by sophomore guard Alana Denson, but the preseason All-Sun Belt selection was an unstoppable force inside. Blount made 8-of-11 field goals and made 11-of-12 free throws. Alcenia Purnell had 13 of her 15 points in the second half to lead UNC Pembroke.
Coastal used a 19-4 run early in the first quarter to build a commanding lead and led the rest of the way. Blount scored 14 points in that early 19-4 run that lifted Coastal to a 31-17 lead. The Chanticleers closed the second quarter with a 6-0 run that gave Coastal its biggest lead of the first 20 minutes.
With Blount leading the way with 19 points, Coastal took a 38-20 lead into halftime. The Braves had just two field goals over the last seven minutes of the first half and the Chants held a commanding 29-13 advantage on the boards in the opening half.
Junior center Janeen Camp made two free throws to open the third quarter, giving Coastal its biggest lead of the night at 40-20. UNC Pembroke battled back to close the gap, connecting on four three-pointers to cut the lead to 43-34 before Coastal responded with eight unanswered points and held the Braves at bay the rest of the way.
The lead was still at eight points, 57-49, before Blount closed the door with a three-point play and Davis followed with a short jumper. Davis punctuated the victory with a three-pointer in the final minute to close the scoring.
Coastal finished 23-of-58 from the field (40 percent) and nearly doubled-up UNC Pembroke’s scoring at the free throw line, making 17-of 21 (81 percent) compared to 8-of-9 from the free throw line by the Braves. The Chanticleers also owned the boards with a 41-25 rebounding advantage.
Coastal will play UNC Pembroke again Friday at 6 p.m. ET and continue its four-game homestand by hosting Coker on Dec. 16 and Converse on Dec. 18.