We got a little rivalry action tonight in the Big South Tournament when the host Coastal Carolina Chanticleers took the floor for a rubber match with rival Charleston Southern. Coastal defeated the Chanticleers with a game winning shot from Warren Gillis less than a week ago.
Unfortunately, the two teams on the floor weren't about to explode as much as the fans. At halftime the Bucs had a narrow 25-22 lead thanks to 12 points from guard Sheldon Strickland who was stepping up in the absence of star guard Saah Nimley, who is out for the season.
Things heated up a little right off the bat in the second half as the Chants went on an 8-0 run. Despite the run from Coastal the game remained close throughout and never seemed to get away from more than a one shot game. That all changed when Arlon Harper willed Charleston Southern to a 7-0 run and a 47-42 that forced a Cliff Ellis timeout with 4:10 to play.
Coastal quickly responded though with a 8-0 run of their own, all with starting guard Josh Cameron on the bench with four fouls. Cameron hit a big shot to expand the Chants lead to 53-49, but shortly after last week's hero Warren Gillis fouled out with 1:15 to play and just a two point lead after free throws from Arlon Harper.
After a missed shot from Coastal there was a scrum under the basket where the Bucs came away with the ball. Unfortunately, Arlon Harper was hit in the head in that sequence and would have to sit out a critical offensive possession. With Harper out, Barclay Radebaugh went to Sheldon Strickland who nailed a mid-range jumper with 32 seconds to go to tie the game at 53. After a Cliff Ellis timeout Josh Cameron pulled up from 30 feet with time expiring and missed a potential game-winner.
Coastal started off overtime with back-to-back turnovers to give Charleston Southern an instant four point lead. Coastal responded rather quickly though and a long bomb from Cameron gave the lead back to the Chants at 60-59 with 1:46 to play.
After a pair of situations where both teams split free throws and Coastal kept a one point lead the Chants pulled down a rebound on the defensive end and the referees granted Cliff Ellis a timeout. After an appeal from Barclay Radebaugh the refs decided that Coastal should not have been granted the timeout but Coastal retained the ball.
Michel Enanga would then go to the line for Coastal and only convert one free throw to give the Chants a two point lead. With the shot clock off Arlong Harper nailed a runner from the lane to tie the game at 62 with 11 seconds left.
Part of the Chanticleers problem at this point of the game was taking rushed shots and not using the clocks to their advantage. That problem popped up again as Josh Cameron once again pulled up from about 30 feet and missed another potential game-winner to force double overtime.
Coastal looked like they were the ones that were going to build an early lead in the second overtime but Michel Enanga missed two key free throws. Cameron picked things up though for Enanga as he nailed a big three pointer to give the Chants a 67-62 with 2:21 to play. The Chants then expanded their lead to seven points, the largest lead of the game. Charleston Southern cut the lead back to three points thanks to Harper but then he missed a separate opportunity with about 15 seconds left to tie the game.
The Chanticleers eventually escaped with a 73-68 win thanks to El Hadji Ndieguene converting two free throws to ice the game.
Coastal Carolina will move on to the winner of VMI and Gardner-Webb in the semifinals on Saturday after the conclusion of the noon game between Winthrop and UNC Asheville. Cliff Ellis has to feel fortunate to come away with victory given Gillis' foul trouble and the Chants shooting just 28.9% from the floor. Cameron lead CCU with 20 points and Gillis added 18. Arlon Harper lead CSU with 21 points.