Conway, S.C. – Deaja Richardson scored a game-high 22 points and Aja Blount added 17 points for Coastal Carolina as the Chanticleers took control in the final minutes for a 76-68 win over Old Dominionin a Sun Belt Conference game on Senior Night at the HTC Center.
Richardson and Blount were just two of four players in double figures on Senior Night for Coastal, which improved to 14-15 overall and 9-9 in the conference. The Chants also finished the regular season with a 12-3 record at home.
Richardson has now scored 20 or more points in four of the last five games, while Blount has now reached double figures in 12 consecutive games. Arin Freeman added 16 points, including 14 of those in the second half, and Angie Juste-Jean, a 5-8 guard, came off the bench to get 12 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
Amari Young had 17 points to lead Old Dominion, while Makayla Dickens added 14 points and Jada Duckett was the top rebounder with nine boards for the Monarchs. ODU slipped to 20-11 and 12-6 with the loss.
Blount, a 5-11 graduate student, made a lefty hook from close range to put Coastal in front to stay at 66-65 with a bit more than two minutes remaining in the contest. From there Coastal outscored the visitors 12-3 down the stretch. There were 14 lead changes and seven ties before Coastal went in front to stay.
“We did not want to let ODU get a sweep on us. We have made tremendous progress this season with wins over three of the top teams. We are going into the Sun Belt Women’s Basketball Championships with a chance. I hope we are one of the teams that the leaders do not want to play,” said Coastal first-year coach Kevin Pederson.
“We talk a lot about playing the fourth quarter the same way you play the first quarter. We wanted to put ourselves in a good position and then live with the outcome. We played blue-collar basketball tonight, and when we make 28-of-35 free throws, that makes me a happy coach.”
Old Dominion had its largest lead of nine points at 45-36 before Richardson made a three-pointer and was fouled. Her four-point play started a 10-0 run that lifted Coastal into a 46-45 lead when Freeman made a pair of layups and a pair of free throws in succession late in the third quarter.
Blount, Freeman, and Richardson combined to score 11 of the final 12 points to put a ribbon on Blount’s career, as she will finish as the school’s second all-time leading scorer with more than 1,900 points.
Coastal had an early 6-0 run that gave the Chants a slim 8-6 lead to start the contest. And, before the first quarter was concluded there were already seven lead changes and five ties, with neither team holding more than a four-point advantage. The Chants made 8-of-11 free throws over the last three minutes of the quarter to edge in front at 18-15.
However, the eighth lead change was the last until there were just 12 minutes left in the game as Old Dominion strung together seven consecutive points and built a seven-point lead at 27-20 midway through the second quarter. Coastal rallied to pull within 32-30 at halftime. Richardson led Coastal with 11 points, while Old Dominion spread its points out among eight scorers.
The Monarchs stretched their lead to nine points and seemed to be in control until Richardson ignited her team on a 10-0 run to take the lead, as the Chanticleers outscored ODU 26-19 in the last quarter.
Coastal shot a very respectable 22-of-46 from the field (47.8 percent) and made 28-of-35 free throws (80 percent). Richardson was a perfect 9-of-9 from the foul line and made 4-of-4 in the final 30 seconds. The Chanticleers also outrebounded the taller Monarchs by 39-32. In addition to Juste-Jean’s 10 rebounds, reserve Arielle-Vadrelle Belinga and Freeman had six apiece.
Coastal will move on to the Sun Belt Conference Championships, which will be played from Feb. 28-March 6 at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Fla.