Wofford guard Eric Garcia (5) drives the ball against Michigan guard Zak Irvin (21) during the first half of a second round NCAA college basketball tournament game Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

RECAP: Coastal Carolina Holds On Down the Stretch to Score a Big Road Win at Wofford

In a game that featured two mid-major programs who were atop their respective conferences a season ago, it was Badou Diagne, who scored 13 points and pulled in 7 rebounds, and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers who came away with the 71-63 win over Wofford.
In a game that featured two mid-major programs who were atop their respective conferences a season ago, it was Badou Diagne, who scored 13 points and pulled in 7 rebounds, and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers who came away with the 71-63 win over Wofford.

Over the past couple of seasons, both the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and the Wofford Terriers have represented their conference in the NCAA Tournament, and have wreaked havoc during the regular season over the NCAA as a whole. They have been two of the more dominant mid-major teams in the last 2 or 3 years, which has made the start to the 2015-16 season a struggle to watch at time for both teams.

Both the Chanticleers and Terriers are adapting to life without some of their stars from last season. Most notably, Warren Gillis is not in a Chanticleers’ jersey this season, and Karl Cochran is no longer suiting up for the Terriers.

Despite the losses, both teams have talent and Monday night’s battle was a showdown of two heavyweight mid-major programs.

Behind a big first half, the Chanticleers held on down the stretch in the second half and sent the Terriers to their first home loss of the season. Coastal Carolina had four players reach double-figures in their 71-63 win over Wofford.

Early on, it was all Chanticleers. Tristian Curtis got the visitors on the board on their opening possession, and that kick-started a 13-2 run that lasted over 5 minutes to open the game. A pair of free throws from Cameron Jackson at the 14:14 mark ended the drought for the Terriers.

Unfortunately for the Terriers, the Chanticleers showed no signs of slowing down. Starting with the free throws by Jackson, Wofford put up points on five straight possessions, which one would think got them right back into the game. Coastal Carolina matched the Terriers, scoring on five straight possessions of their own to maintain a 24-14 lead.

As the first half wore on, Coastal Carolina would hold steady with their double-digit lead, using strong free throw shooting from Shivaughn Wiggins and a balanced scoring attack that saw five different players score in the last 9 minutes to enter the break with a sizeable lead. Despite 6 points from Wofford in the final 2:04 of the half, the Chanticleers held a 43-29 lead at the break.

Wofford came out with a sense of urgency in the second half, scoring points on their opening three possessions to trim the deficit to 10. Back-to-back three pointers from Fletcher Magee cut the lead down to 9, at 50-41, with just over 14 minutes to go, and put Wofford in a great position for a comeback.

Coastal Carolina was weathering the storm, and seemed to always have an answer for whatever the Terriers threw at them. Down the stretch, Wofford used free throws from Eric Garcia and Spencer Collins to cut the lead to just 3 points on several occasions, but they were never able to overtake the Chanticleers.

Strong free throw shooting in the closing minutes from Colton Ray-St. Cyr and Wiggins sealed the deal for the Chanticleers, and they came away with a hard-fought win over the Wofford Terriers.

Thanks to a strong output from the entire team, the Chanticleers led from start to finish in the game, forcing the Terriers to play catch-up the entire way. Shivaughn Wiggins scored a team-high 14 points to go along with 4 assists in the victory, and four players reached double-figures on the night.

Forward Michel Enanga came off the bench to record 10 points and 3 rebounds in just 16 minutes of floor time, and Tristian Curtis was a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor for 10 points.

Not to be outdone on their home floor, the Terriers had three players of their own reach the double-figure mark in points on the night. Guard Eric Garcia led the way with a game-high 18 points, and he was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line.

Spencer Collins added 10 points, while Fletcher Magee added in 14 points of his own in the loss.

The win was the third-straight for the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (6-4, 1-1), and their 6th win in their last 8 games after losing two straight to open the year. The Chanticleers are hoping that this is a sign of things to come as they move towards Big South play. Coastal Carolina will look to extend their winning streak on Friday night when they travel to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

As for the Wofford Terriers (3-6), they haven’t looked like the dominant team that we have been used to over the past couple of seasons. Losing a player like Karl Cochran will do that to a team, but the talent is still there for the Terriers to contend in the Southern Conference this season. They will look to get back on track on Saturday night when they go on the road to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores.

– T.B.