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Hot Shooting Chanticleers Pick Up Ninth-Straight Win With Victory Over Flames
The Chanticleers shot an opponent Vines Center record 63.6 percent from the field and used a 35-8 run to start the second half en route to a 78-61 win over Liberty, Thursday evening, at the Vines Center.
With the victory, Coastal Carolina ups its conference record to 11-4 (17-9 overall), marking the most Big South victories by the team since the program finished with a 12-4 record during the 1992-93 season on their way to an NCAA Tournament berth.
The loss drops Liberty's league record to 3-12 (7-21 overall); however, despite suffering the stinging defeat, the Flames did clinch a spot in the upcoming Big South Basketball Championship by virtue of VMI's loss to Radford earlier in the evening as the Keydets finish the year with a 2-14 conference record. The Flames will be the eighth-seeded team in the championship, while their first round opponent will be determined after this weekend's games.
The Flames jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead as a jumper by Larry Blair (Jr., G, Charlotte, N.C.) gave Liberty a five-point lead at the 17:36 mark. Liberty continued to control the pace of play over the next three minutes as a three-pointer by Blair pushed the Flames' lead to seven points, 13-6, with 13:26 mark.
Coastal Carolina scored the next five points of the game and pulled within two, 15-13, on a trey by Steven Sexton at the 11:03 mark, but Liberty was able to fend off the Chanticleer run and maintain the lead over the next eight minutes.
A three-pointer by Evan Risher (So., G, Fort Worth, Texas) gave Liberty a three-point edge, 30-27, with 3:48 left to play in the opening period; however, Coastal Carolina was able to take its first lead of the game over the next two minutes with a 7-0 run, capped off by a three-pointer by Jack Leasure at the 1:34 mark. The two teams traded baskets over the next 60 seconds, while Blair knocked down a three-pointer with just three seconds left on the clock, trimming the Chanticleers' halftime lead to two points, 37-35.
A lay-up by Rell Porter (So., F, Pittsburg, Texas) and a pair of free throws by Risher kept the Flames within three points to open the second half, but Coastal Carolina continued to keep their hot-shooting hands, reeling off a 22-2 run to take a 23-point lead, 64-41, on a Leasure three at the 9:27 mark.
Blair sank a pair of free throws 16 seconds later, but the Chanticleers completed the impressive second half opening run by scoring eight-straight points, taking a 29-point edge, 72-43, on a lay-up by Colin Stevens with 7:05 left in the game. The Flames managed to close the game on a 17-2 run over the final three minutes to shave the margin of victory to just 17 points.
Both teams were red hot from the field as the Chanticleers finished the opening period shooting 61.9 percent from the field (13-of-21) and Liberty shot 56.5 percent (13-of-23). But the second half was a completely different story as Coastal Carolina was able to maintain their hot shooting as the visitors upped their percent by shooting 65.2 percent (15-of-23) in the second half, while Liberty finished the decisive second period shooting 32.0 percent (8-of-25).
Coastal Carolina placed four out of five starters in double figures as Leasure led the way with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field, including 4-of-7 from three-point range, while Pele Paelay followed with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Stevens chipped in with 12 points and Moses Sonko rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11 points.
Blair paced the Flames with 17 points, aided by a 3-of-5 performance from three-point range, while adding three steals. Porter netted a career-best 14 points as he finished the game shooting 5-of-8 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free throw line.
Both teams conclude their regular-season schedules on the road this Saturday as Liberty travels to face High Point at 7 p.m. in the Millis Center, while Coastal Carolina squares off against Radford at the Dedmon Center at 7 p.m.