CONWAY, S.C. – DeVante’ Jones scored 17 points and Ebrima Dibba hit two key baskets in the final 14 seconds as Coastal Carolina hung on for a 70-65 win over Troy in a Sun Belt Conference game Saturday afternoon at the HTC Center. Jones, who had 16 of his points in the second half, hit four free throws to put the Chanticleers in front 60-51, but the outcome wasn’t decided until Dibba hit a three-pointer from the left corner as the shot clock was winding down. For good measure, he made a steal and layup just seconds later.
“We wanted the ball in the hands of DJ (Jones) or Dibba and let them create,” said head coach Cliff Ellis of the important possession in the final minute with his team leading by just two points. “That was a big-time three right there.”
Jones led a quartet of players in double figures. Tyrik Dixon had 14 points while Dibba and Kevin Williamson had 12 points apiece to help lift Coastal to 11-3 on the season and 5-2 in the Sun Belt. It was another comeback win for the Chanticleers, who are now 11-1 at home with a four-game winning streak in Conway.
Freshman Kam Woods hit for a season-high 28 points, but he couldn’t keep Troy from slipping to 6-9 overall and 1-5 in league play. Woods single-handedly pulled the Jaguars back to make it a nail-biter at the end. He hit a three-pointer to bring Troy back to within 65-63, before Dibba’s big bucket, and scored his team’s last 10 points.
It was another solid performance for Williamson, who came off the bench to hit for double figures on back-to-back nights. He had 10 points in Coastal’s 90-81 win over Troy on Friday night.
In what has become a consistent theme at home, the Chanticleers were again slow to hit full stride at the start. The guard tandem of Woods and Duke Miles combined for nine points as Troy jumped out to a 14-2 lead. Coastal tried to claw back, cutting the margin to just three at 17-14 on a 3-pointer from reserve guard Kevin Williamson. But Woods then hit three 3-pointers in an 11-1 run for Troy. His last three gave the Jaguars their biggest lead, at 34-20. They led at halftime by 36-25. Woods went to the break with 14 points while Jones, Coastal’s top scorer on the season, had just one point and went 0-4 from the field.
Jones shook that off and had nine of his team’s first 11 points of the second half as the Chants got to within five, at 41-36. They took the lead for the first time two minutes later when Williamson followed up his own miss, making it 44-41, and they held the lead the rest of the way.
Coastal shot 52 percent in the second half (14-of-27) and out-rebounded the Jaguars in the last 20 minutes, 23-17, with swingman Garrick Green pulling down six rebounds in the final stanza. Ellis also shifted to a pressing defense that made a difference. “Our press was a key factor for us,” said the long-time coach who is in his 13th season at Coastal. “I think we were able to take their legs away in the second half. We dug out of a hole again and I’m just glad we got out of here with the win.”
The Chanticleers will now hit the road for five consecutive Sun Belt games beginning the road trip with a weekend series at Georgia Southern Jan. 29-30, before returning home on Feb. 13 to host Appalachian State.