Entering Monday night’s action, the Big South Conference was in need of some clarity in the standings. There were three teams tied at the top with 10 – 4 records, while there were three more sitting a single game back at 9 – 5.
The Radford Highlanders, who were one of the teams at 10 – 4, were welcoming the 9 – 5 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers to town in one of the best games of the evening. Radford and Coastal Carolina were both looking to continue their winning ways in the conference, and gain more positive momentum as the season winds down.
The game lived up to the hype, but it did not provide any clarity whatsoever in the conference race.
The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers came from behind in the second half to take down the Radford Highlanders, 65 – 59, and create a bigger logjam atop the conference standings.
IN the first half, both teams struggled to score in the opening minutes, going over two full minutes without a basket before Shivaughn Wiggins broke the deadlock for the Chanticleers.
The low-scoring would continue as the first half wore on. The ten-minute mark passed, and it was 9 – 6 for the Highlanders before Badou Diagne and R.J. Price traded three pointers to make the lead 12 – 9 in favour of Radford. Ya Ya Anderson would stretch the lead to 8 points for the Highlanders, but Coastal Carolina would come right back.
Diagne made back-to-back three pointers to trim the deficit to just two points, with just over 6 minutes left in the game. Radford would try to pull away, but Marcus Freeman would score eight straight points for the Chanticleers to keep them within striking distance of the Highlanders.
As the first half came to a close, Coastal Carolina was still within striking distance, as Radford held a slim 30 – 25 lead after the first 20 minutes of action.
The second half opened with both teams trading early baskets, with Javonte Green scoring the first two points of the half for Radford and Badou Diagne continuing his strong play by getting the Chanticleers on the board early.
The teams would trade baskets often over the course of the first eight minutes of the half, but Coastal Carolina was never able to take a lead of their own. They would trim the deficit to as little as three points, but the Highlanders would keep pulling away.
Green would stretch the lead to eight points at the 12:18 mark, at 46 – 38, which led to a Chanticleers’ timeout that was followed by a media timeout.
Whatever was said in those timeouts triggered something with the team, because the Chanticleers came out firing.
Josh Cameron and Diagne made back-to-back three pointers to trim the deficit to just two points with over 11 minutes to play in the contest. Brandon Holcomb would push the lead back to seven in favour of Radford, but it was only a matter of time before Coastal Carolina took things over.
They took their first lead since the early parts of the game on a Josh Cameron three-pointer, to tip the scale in favour of the Chanticleers at 53 – 52. Radford would retake a one point lead, and over the course of the next five minutes, the teams would trade leads.
At the 1:54 mark, Green made two free throws for the Highlanders to give them a 59 – 57 lead, and those would turn out to be the last points that Radford would score on this night.
Coastal Carolina seized the opportunity, and took full advantage on the offensive end. Warren Gillis made two jumpers to put the Chanticleers in front, 61 – 59. A missed layup from Green and a missed dunk from Holcomb for the Highlanders on the offensive end spelled the end for Radford on this night.
Gillis scored the last eight points of the game, and the Chanticleers came away with a hard-earned 65 – 59 win on Monday night.
For the visiting Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, Badou Diagne had one of his best games as a Chanticleer. Diagne led all scorers in the game with 19 points, and added in 11 rebounds for the double-double. Warren Gillis added 12 points of his own, with the majority of his production coming when the team needed him the most (8 points in the last two minutes).
Junior forward Marcus Freeman came off the bench and recorded 14 points, an impressive 16 rebounds, and 5 blocks for an all-around stellar performance in the win.
As for the Highlanders, Javonte Green led the way, scoring a team-high 18 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 3 steals in a losing effort. R.J. Price added in 14 points for the hometown team in the loss.
Big man Brandon Holcomb was a force on the defensive end for Radford, recording 5 blocks, but it wasn’t enough to help lead the team to the win.
The win was the second-straight overall and fourth in fifth games for the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (19 – 8, 10 – 5). The defending Big South tournament champions will look to keep their winning ways going when they take on Campbell on Thursday.
The loss was just the second defeat in the last 12 games for the Radford Highlanders (19 – 9, 10 – 5). The Highlanders will look to bounce back in their next time on the floor, which is Saturday against the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs.