Freeman leads Coastal Carolina women to a 69-44 win over South Alabama

(CCU Athletics)
Published: Jan. 14, 2023 at 5:24 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2023 at 5:29 PM EST
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CONWAY, S.C. – Sophomore guard Arin Freeman scored a game-high 17 points to lead three players in double figures, as Coastal Carolina led from start to finish in defeating South Alabama 69-44 in a Sun Belt Conference game Saturday afternoon at the HTC Center.

Coastal led by seven at 40-33 early in the third quarter before breaking the contest open to lead by as many as 29 points midway through the fourth quarter. Freeman, a 5-7 point guard, had all of her points by the end of the third period. She also contributed seven assists and three steals. Deaja Richardson added 13 points, including 10 of those in the second half, and Angie Juste-Jean had 12 points for the Chanticleers, who improved to 8-9 overall and 3-3 in the Sun Belt Conference.

Including a 65-61 win over Marshall on Thursday, Coastal has now won back-to-back conference games for the first time since early in the 2021-22 season, a span of 53 weeks. The Chants are also 7-2 at home this season.

Miriam Recarte scored all of her eight points in the second half for CCU, as she took over for leading scorer Aja Blount, who had a chance to rest with her team in command. She played just five minutes after halftime and finished with just six points, matching her lowest output of the season, but she still had a team-high seven rebounds in just 21 minutes of action.

“We challenged them at halftime to come out hard and aggressive and finish the game. This was a tremendous team effort,” said head coach Kevin Pederson. “We took advantage of some matchups, and we were able to get Aja some rest. Any time we can get her a little rest, it is good because we will rely on her the rest of the way.”

Casey Ferguson scored 11 points to lead South Alabama, which fell to 4-13 overall and 0-6 in the league after being held to its lowest scoring output in a conference game this season. The Jaguars have now lost six consecutive games.

Freeman was the key figure in the early-going, as the Chants built an 11-point lead at 26-15 midway through the second quarter. Freeman had 11 of her team’s 26 points at that point and already had dished out four assists. But what was a comfortable lead slipped away as South Alabama closed the quarter on a 10-4 run to trim the Coastal lead to just 30-25 at the halftime break.

South Alabama kept it close until Recarte hit a three-pointer to ignite an 11-0 run that lifted Coastal to a 15-point lead at 51-33 after three quarters. Richardson and Anaya Barney also hit threes in the run, and Freeman added a breakaway layup off a steal.

Coastal was not done, however, as it went on another 11-0 run early in the fourth quarter to build a 29-point lead at 64-35 with slightly more than five minutes remaining. Recarte, a 6-2 graduate student, stepped out again to hit a three-pointer to get the run started and capped the scoring barrage with a lay-up. She also added an assist on a layup by Richardson.

Coastal shot 42 percent from the field (26-of-62) and made 10-of-11 free throws. Freeman made all four of her free throws to improve to 74 percent for the season. Richardson made her three attempts to improve to 84 percent from the line.

The Coastal women now will hit the road for 3-of-4 league road games over the next two weeks before returning to the HTC Center beginning with contests at Georgia State (Jan. 19) and Appalachian State (Jan. 21). The lone home matchup will be against JMU on Thursday, Jan. 26.