CONWAY, S.C. – Senior guard DJ Williams scored nine of her game-high 21 points in the final period as No. 21 Coastal Carolina earned a share of the Sun Belt conference lead with a 62-56 win over Texas Arlington Saturday afternoon at the HTC Center. The win lifted the Chanticleers to 13-2 overall and 3-1 in the league, while UTA fell to 9-7 and 3-1 with the loss.
Williams had nine of her team’s 14 points in the final quarter when Coastal needed them the most. Coastal also got 13 points and nine rebounds from senior guard Torrie Cash, the smallest player on the court at 5’6″, and 10 points from sophomore forward Aja Blount, including nine of them in the second half.
The past two games put Williams in the top 10 for career points with 1301, surpassing Kim Lewis’s 1258 from 1990-93. The Moreno Valley, Calif. native should easily move up to the sixth spot needing just 140 to match what assistant coach AJ Jordan accomplished in her time as a Chanticleer.
UTA came into the game with the league’s top scorer in senior Marie Benson. Benson was one of three players with 12 points for the Lady Mavericks, but she got only two points in the second half.
After six lead changes and seven ties, Cash hit a three-pointer to give CCU the lead at 28-27 late in the second quarter. The Chanticleers, who held the upper hand the rest of the way stretched its lead to 11 at 55-44 early in the final quarter when Williams hit a short jumper. But the Lady Mavericks didn’t go down quietly as the visitors answered with a 10-2 run to trim Coastal’s lead to three at 57-54.
From there, Williams hit a key floater in the lane in the final minute as the shot clock was about to expire to give Coastal a 59-54 advantage. The Chanticleers hung on down the stretch, making three of four free throws to seal the win.
Williams, who sat for most of the third quarter with three fouls, also led her team with four assists. It was the 22nd time that the California native scored 20 or more points. The past two games put Williams in the top 10 for career points with 1301, surpassing Kim Lewis’s 1,258 from 1990-93.
“Any time we can get a win against the reigning conference co-champions, it’s a big win for us,” said an elated Coastal head coach Jaida Williams, who picked up her 99th career coaching victory. “The keys for us were DJ’s scoring and our defense late in the game.”
Cash got rebounding help inside from Blount and senior center Naheria Hamilton, who had six rebounds apiece. The team totals were even in the end at 37 rebounds each, as Coastal moved to 12-1 overall when being even or outrebounding its opponent this season.
Coastal finished the first half with an 8-2 run to hold a slim 31-29 advantage at the break. Williams had 11 points in the early going for the Chanticleers, while Benson had 10 points for the Lady Mavericks.
Coastal finished with 20 field goals in 51 attempts and hit seven three-pointers. UTA made 23 field goals but made two fewer buckets from beyond the arc. There was also a big difference from the free-throw line where Coastal made 15-of-23 attempts, 10 more than its Texas opponent.
Coastal will play its next three games on the road; at Little Rock on Jan. 15, at Appalachian State Jan. 18 and at Arkansas State Jan. 25, before returning home on Jan. 30 for a home contest against Georgia Southern.
Courtesy: Coastal Carolina Athletics