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Coastal Carolina men open Sun Belt action with win over ULM

Coastal Carolina's Vince Cole dunks during the Chanticleers' 94-64 win over ULM on Thursday.
Coastal Carolina's Vince Cole dunks during the Chanticleers' 94-64 win over ULM on Thursday.(Bob McCool / CCU Athletics)
Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 10:05 PM EST
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CONWAY, S.C. – Vince Cole scored 19 points and Rudi Williams added 17 and Coastal Carolina used a 23-point run to lead the Chanticleers to a surprisingly easy 94-64 win over Louisiana-Monroe Thursday night at the HTC Center in the opening Sun Belt Conference game for both teams.

The Chanticleers had five players in double figures and improved to 8-4 overall.

Essam Mostafa and Garrick Green contributed 13 points apiece and Josh Uduje had 12 points in the first start of his career. Mostafa also had a career-high 17 rebounds to earn his seventh double-double of the season. Nika Metskhvarishvioli scored 20 points to lead ULM, which is now 8-5 after ending a six-game winning streak.

“We played extremely well tonight,” said a pleased head coach Cliff Ellis. “Our scoring was well balanced, and we did our job on the glass. We had to win the rebounding war and we did. And I thought our changing zone defenses helped key our big run that broke the game open.” 

The big run was a 23-point outburst to that broke a 36-36 tie and put the Chanticleers comfortably in front, 59-36 with 16:30 left in the game. Minutes later, Coastal put together an 8-0 run and steadily pulled away until it was a 34-point margin with seven minutes left. 

Coastal had jumped out to an early 10-4 lead, but the Warhawks rallied behind Metskhvarishvioli, who came off the bench to score 11 points in the first half. Neither team led by more than six points in the period until the Chanticleers ran off nine consecutive points in the final two minutes to take a 45-36 lead at the break. Coastal then scored the first 14 points in the second half, as the Warhawks went nearly six minutes without a point. 

Coastal had 10 players score on the night. And while team leader Ebrima Dibba only had four points, he dished out a career-high 12 assists. The Chants made 32-of-64 field goal attempts (52 percent) and had 23 assists (71 percent of the field goals made). The Chants nearly doubled up ULM in rebounding as well, holding a 51-26 advantage, with Mostafa owning the boards. Green helped the cause with eight rebounds, while Cole, Dibba and Williams had five apiece. 

Cole was just a point shy of his season-high, but improved on his 13-points-a-game average. Williams hit for his 17 points in just 22 minutes of action. Mostafa, a 6′10″ sophomore, meanwhile, picked up the 17th double-double of his career and his third consecutive. 

Coastal will return to the HTC Center two more times over the weekend; hosting Louisiana at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Emory and Henry at 2 p.m. on Sunday.