CONWAY, S.C. – Senior guard Vince Cole and senior reserve forward Wilfried Likayi had season highs of 17 and 15 points, respectively, but it wasn’t enough as Mercer hung on for a hard-fought 74-69 win over Coastal Carolina Monday night at the HTC Center.
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Chanticleers and ended their 10-game home winning streak. The loss leaves them at 4-3 on the season. Mercer got 16 points apiece from Jalen Johnson and James Glisson in winning its fourth consecutive game, lifting the Bears to a 6-4 record.
Cole finished hitting on 6-of-7 shots while Likayi made 5-of-6 three-point attempts after being just 3-of-17 from long range coming into the game.
In addition to Cole and Likayi, Coastal’s Ebrima Dibba picked up his first double-double of the season with 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Three of the Chants leading scorers Essam Mostafa, Rudi Williams, and Garrick Green combined for 20 points, 22 points off their combined season average.
Coastal staged a sustained comeback in digging out of an early 18-point hole to take the lead on Cole’s driving layup with five minutes remaining. Dibba added a pair of free throws seconds later, giving the Chants a 64-61 lead. The lead lasted for only a minute however, as the Bears retook the lead with an 8-0 run and held on for the win.
“We were right there and then we two unfortunate possessions,” said Coastal head coach Cliff Ellis. “But I thought our team was resilient in the comeback. We just couldn’t get enough stops. Give Mercer credit. That’s a very good basketball team. And that’s a tough loss for us.”
Mercer jumped in front quickly, using runs of 8-0 and 10-0 to take a commanding 24-6 lead, as Cole was the only Coastal player to find the bucket in the first 10 minutes of action. Cole had a pair of early three-pointers and then hit another in the midst of a 7-0 run by the Chants that cut the deficit to eight, at 30-22. Likayi helped bring the Chants even closer with a pair of long-range jumpers from the left corner in the final two minutes of the first half, making it 35-30 at the break.
Cole was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field for his 11 points in the first half, but the rest of his team was just 8-of-22 (36 percent). Mercer hit on almost half of its shots in the first 20 minutes and had eight players with points.
In the end, the difference was a couple more made three-pointers by Mercer. The Bears were 11-of-36 from beyond the arch. Coastal hit 9-of-19 from long range. The rebounding totals were even at 31 apiece, with Mostafa leading Coastal with seven boards.
Coastal will be back in action when it hosts Wofford at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12 in the fourth of six consecutive home games. The Chants will end the homestand with back-to-back games against Methodist and Regent on Dec. 15 and Dec. 16, respectively. The Regent game is a late addition to the schecdule.
Courtesy – Coastal Carolina Athletics