CONWAY, S.C. – Senior guards Rudi Williams and Vince Cole scored 20 points and 17 points, respectively, as Coastal Carolina pulled away in the second half for a 65-49 win over Little Rock in a Sun Belt Conference game Thursday night at the HTC Center. Coastal also got 12 points from sophomore center Essam Mostafa, as the Chanticleers improved to 12-8 overall and 4-4 in the league with their third consecutive win.
Little Rock got 18 points from Jordan Jefferson, but the Trojans dropped their six straight road game and fell to 7-10 overall and 2-3 in the Sun Belt.
There were three lead changes before Coastal took the lead for good midway through the first half and held it the rest of the way. The Chanticleers put the game away with 9-0 run in the second half, led by back-to-back driving layups from point guard Ebrima Dibba, that put the Chants comfortably ahead by 16, at 54-38, with seven minutes left in the contest. Dibba finished with just six points but dished out seven assists.
From there, Coastal stretched its lead to 17 points on a three-point play from 6’7” senior frontline strongman Isaac Hippolyte, making the score 57-40 with five minutes remaining. Coastal finished the night by scoring the last four points of the game, with the last basket coming on a breakaway dunk by Mostafa in the final minute.
“We’re building some confidence after losing some heartbreakers early in conference play,” said acting head coach Benny Moss, who was filling in for Cliff Ellis, who missed his first game in 48 years of being a head coach, covering 1,432 games. “We have to keep looking ahead to the next game. We defended and rebounded well tonight and Will Likayi did a tremendous job of that. Overall, we played good team defense.”
Likayi only had three points but the 6’9” senior grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds, including 10 in the first half. Mostafa chipped in with eight rebounds, helping the Chants to an overwhelming 45-28 advantage.
After a 3-for-12 shooting start, Williams had six points in a 15-2 run that put the Chanticleers in front by 23-13 with two minutes remaining in the first half. Williams and Cole each had eight points at the break, and Coastal had a 23-16 advantage. The 16 points were the fewest allowed in a half this season by the Chants. And the Trojans’ game total of 49 points was the second fewest Coastal has allowed this year.
Coastal improved its shooting in the second half and finished 26-for-55 from the field (47 percent). Conversely, Little Rock never found a hot hand and finished shooting just 19-of-61 (31 percent).
Coastal will be back in action at 1 p.m. Saturday as host to Arkansas State, which comes in with a 4-2 league record, good enough for second place. The Chanticleers will be on the road next week with two games in Texas, at UT Arlington (Thursday) and at Texas State (Saturday) before coming back to the HTC Center for four consecutive home games in mid-February.
Courtesy – Coastal Carolina Athletics