CONWAY, S.C. – Senior center Naheria Hamilton scored a career-high 25 points while senior guard Torrie Cash tied her career-high with 23 points to lead Coastal Carolina to an 88-69 win over ULM in a Sun Belt Conference game Thursday night at the HTC Center. The conference victory guaranteed the Chanticleers a spot in the semifinal round of the conference tournament in New Orleans on March 14.
It was the ninth consecutive win for Coastal, which pushed its overall record to 24-3 and 14-2 in the league, locking up at least the second seed for the playoff tournament.
ULM got 28 points from freshman guard Gara Beth Self, but it was not enough as the Warhawks dropped their 10th-straight to leave town with a 3-23 record overall and 1-14 mark in the conference.
Coastal never trailed and finished with four players in double figures. In addition to Cash and Hamilton, who picked up her 10th double-double on the season, the Chanticleers got 17 points from sophomore center Aja Blount and 12 points from senior DJ Williams, who dished out 10 assists just one shy of her career-best.
“We knew we were the better team,” said Cash, who had a career-high five three-pointers on the night. “I did not know I had a career-high. I try to do whatever this team needs me to do. And I think we can be as good as we want to be for the rest of the year.”
The Chanticleers wasted little time in taking control against the undersized Warhawks. Hamilton had 10 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter as Coastal built a commanding 24-11 lead. Cash reached double figures early on, getting 15 points before the break while pacing CCU to a 44-29 halftime advantage.
Hamilton got things going to start the third quarter. She had three baskets as Coastal increased its lead to 20 points at 57-37. Things changed, however, when Williams was sidelined for several minutes after getting hit in the face going for a loose ball.
ULM stormed back behind the long-range shooting of Self and cut the margin to 59-53 in the final seconds of the third quarter.
Coastal regrouped from there to start the fourth quarter. Williams returned to the lineup, and the Chanticleers went on an 18-2 run, holding the Warhawks without a field goal for more than seven minutes to make it an insurmountable lead at 79-55. CCU reached its largest lead of 26 points at 88-62 with less than two minutes remaining before Coastal head coach Jaida Williams had a chance to play her reserves.
Coastal shot better than 50 percent on the night, hitting 30-of-57 from the field, with Hamilton going 9-of-11 and Cash hitting on 7-of-9, including 5-of-7 from long range. As a team, the Chants hit 7-of-16 three-pointers and out-rebounded the visitors 41-34.
Coastal continues its regular season-ending homestand at 2 p.m. Saturday by hosting Louisiana. The Chanticleers conclude the regular season next Saturday (March 7) against Appalachian State at the HTC Center.
Courtesy – Coastal Carolina Athletics