Coastal’s Uduje and Nichols combine for 42 points in home loss to James Madison

Coastal’s Uduje and Nichols combine for 42 points in home loss to James Madison
Coastal’s Uduje and Nichols combine for 42 points in home loss to James Madison(Coastal Athletic Media)
Published: Feb. 12, 2023 at 3:10 PM EST
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CONWAY, S.C. – Josh Uduje scored 22 points and Jimmy Nichols added a career-high 20 points for Coastal Carolina, but James Madison put four players in double figures and rallied in the final minutes for a 73-66 win in a Sun Belt Conference game Saturday afternoon at the HTC Center.

Coastal led by five points at 61-56 before James Madison closed the game on a 17-5 run to improve to 18-9 overall and 9-5 in the league. Terrence Edwards led the Dukes with 16 points, including 12 in the second half.

Uduje and Nichols were helped by Antonio Daye and Jomaru Brown, who had 10 points apiece for the Chants, who slipped to 10-16 overall and 4-10 in the league. Nichols also had a game-high 13 rebounds for his first double-double in conference play, while Daye dished out five assists, all in the first half, when Coastal used a fast-paced offense to build a 10-point lead.

“We played about as good as we could play in the first half,” said Coastal head coach Cliff Ellis. “But in the second half, we started playing hero ball and it wasn’t pretty. And we struggled shooting the ball. Jimmy (Nichols) did everything he could to carry us. But outside of Jimmy and Josh (Uduje), we just didn’t make shots. We’ve got to make that second half look like the first half when we all played well.”

Coastal shot 46 percent from the field in the first half, but just 29 percent in the second period. Even more telling, was the difference from beyond the three-point line. The Chanticleers made 6-of-16 long-range shots in the first half but went just 1-of-12 in the second half.

Nichols, making his sixth start this season, made the most of his opportunity. He scored 11 points in the first nine minutes of action, with four of them coming on an 11-0 run by Coastal that put the Chants in front by 23-16. Uduje had the other seven points in the run and went on to score 10 of his 12 first-half points in the last 13 minutes. His last points of the half, a three-pointer, gave CCU a 41-31 lead at the break.

The duo of Nichols and Uduje combined for 26 points and 14 rebounds in the first period, while Daye contributed five points and five assists. Nichols already had more points (14) and more rebounds (9) than he had in any conference game this year. The Chants also held the Dukes’ top two scorers, Edwards and Vado Morse, to just four points on 1-of-7 shooting.

Uduje added a jumper to start the second half and give Coastal its largest lead of the game at 43-31. But then James Madison started whittling away at the lead and finally gained the upper hand behind a couple of three-pointers from Tyree Ihenacho, putting the Dukes in front 64-61 with just under three minutes to play.

The buckets came in the midst of a 12-0 run as James Madison gained a 68-61 advantage with a minute to go. Uduje made a layup and free throw to cut the margin to just four at 68-64, but the Dukes closed out the contest by making 5-of-6 free throws in the final minute.

Despite playing without its frontline leader Essam Mostafa, who sat out with an injury, Coastal held its own in rebounding, holding a 44-42 advantage. Nichols was helped on the boards by Uduje and Wilfried Likayi, who each had seven rebounds. Daye grabbed six rebounds from his point guard position.

Coastal is halfway through its four-game home stand and will finish up with two more contests at the HTC Center next week. The final two home games in this stretch will be against Georgia State, Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. ET and against Texas State in the regular-season home finale on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 2 p.m. ET.