Coastal Carolina's Jomaru Brown scored 16 Saturday, including seven in a row during a key stretch. (Photo: Coastal Carolina Athletics)
ROCK HILL, S.C. – For many years, Coastal Carolina games at Winthrop were must-see events. The sides turned in memorable events with massive crowds in the Winthrop Coliseum.
Coastal’s coach remembers those days.
“Every time I come in here, it brings back memories,” Cliff Ellis said after Saturday’s game. “Going back to (Coastal’s time in the) Big South, it was always a challenge.”
Saturday was no exception.
The Chanticleers had three players foul out and hit just 7-of-24 tries from distance, but they still managed to gut out a gritty, chippy – and much-needed – 86-81 victory over their in-state rivals before an announced crowd of 1,218 at the Coliseum.
The sides engaged in the type of back-and-forth battle one would expect early in the first half. Neither side could gain separation past four points for the first 13 minutes of the contest until Kasen Harrison converted a layup to cap a 5-0 burst for the home side that freed a game knotted at 22. Winthrop (4-5) again collected a five-point advantage on two free throws from Sin’Cere McMahon with 1:31 to play in the period, only for Coastal to close the period on a 7-2 stretch to level the contest at 43 at the interval.
Both teams scorched the nets in the opening 20. Coastal (4-3) dropped 56.7 percent of its shots in the first half, as 17 of its 30 tries found the net. Winthrop connected on 51.9 percent (14-of-27) in the period. Each team missed just one free throw and hoisted several threes – Winthrop hit 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) to Coastal’s 35.7 percent (5-of-14).
Toneari Lane continued his hot shooting on the day as the second half commenced, dropping a triple that gave Winthrop the lead to start the period. The Eagle lead climbed as high as seven on an and-one from Kelton Talford, but Coastal again rallied. The Chanticleers tore off a 9-2 run to again draw the game even at 54. The tug-of-war again ensued, with neither side again able to create separation past two possessions.
Winthrop held a three-point lead with 4:55 remaining, with the crowd sensing a big victory against an in-state rival. Eastern Kentucky transfer Jomaru Brown took over for the Chants, however, going on a personal 7-0 run over the next minute and a half. Brown knocked down a triple to square the game, then connected on two free throws and a jumper that put Coastal ahead, 75-71.
After a Kelton Talford floater in the lane brought Winthrop within a point a minute later, Wilfried Likayi drained a corner triple and Coastal converted an Eagle turnover into a Josh Uduje dunk on a run-out. Uduje converted the foul shot to give the Chants a seven-point advantage with 59 seconds remaining. Talford then converted an and-one on a frenetic sequence, pulling the Eagles within three with 18 seconds remaining. Winthrop then forced a Coastal turnover and had a clean look at a game-tying three, but the shot fell short, allowing Coastal to ice the game at the free throw line.
Coastal guard Linton Brown, who canned 15 on 5-for-7 shooting in the first half, paced the five Chants in double figures with 17. Jomaru Brown added 16, with Likayi and Essam Mostafa contributing 15 each. Uduje poured in 14 on 5-for-9 shooting. Coastal hit 50 percent of its tries (29-for-58) and finished 21-for-28 from the line.
Winthrop guard Sin’Cere McMahon turned in his fourth 20-point outing in the last seven games, scoring 20 on 5-for-12 shooting. All five makes came from distance. Three other Eagles joined him in doubles, with Lane and Talford adding 16 apiece. Cory Hightower finished the game with 14, despite playing just 27 minutes and fouling out.
Talford drew special praise from Ellis for his effort, despite the increased attention the Chanticleers paid him. Coastal routinely doubled – or even tripled – Talford when he had the ball.
“He still got 16 points and eight rebounds. He fouled our guys out,” Ellis said with a laugh. “He’s a tough kid.”
Coastal returns to the deck Tuesday, traveling to Wofford. Winthrop remains at home for a Tuesday date against another Palmetto State rival in South Carolina State. Tip time for both contests is set for 7:00.