Conway, S.C. – Senior forward Kevin Easley scored a team-high 16 points, but it wasn’t enough as Wichita State held off Coastal Carolina for an 86-77 win in a first-round game at the Myrtle Beach Invitational Thursday night at the HTC Center.
Easley, who played last season at Duquesne, hit a three-pointer to pull the Chants to within 66-63 midway through the second half, but that was as close as they could get the rest of the way. Wichita responded by making it 77-68 with less than four minutes remaining, and then converted 7-of-8 free throws in the final minute to lock up the victory. The loss dropped Coastal to 1-1 on the season, while Wichita State kept its record perfect at 4-0 on the young season.
“We competed and got close, but our inexperience showed,” said Coastal head coach Cliff Ellis. “That’s a perennial top-25 team, and we showed that we can compete with them. We didn’t leave anything on the table. We shot the three well, but we turned it over too often. Our point guard play has to get better.”
The 6’7” Easley was one of four players in double figures for Coastal. Jacob Meyer, a 6’2” guard, and John Ojiako, a 6’10” center, each had 11, and Ian Granja had 10. Meyer had all of his 11 points in the first half, while Ojiako got all of his points in the second period.
Xavier Bell, a 6’2” junior guard, led all scorers with 20 points for Wichita State. He was supported by four others in double figures, including forward Kenny Pohto, who had all 16 of his points in the second half.
“We showed that we will get better the more we play together,” said Easley. “You could see the improvement from the first game to tonight. But we have to get better. That was a good team that we played, and we were right there with four minutes to go. We learned a lot about ourselves tonight.”
Coastal will move on to face Furman at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday night in its second game of the Myrtle Beach Invitational. The Chanticleers will also play a tournament game on Sunday before resuming its regular season schedule with a home contest against North Carolina Central at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 26.