Game #9-240: Greensboro at Coastal Carolina ChanticleersDecember 30, 2012 7:00 pm
I do not know about you, but I am ready for conference season to begin. There have been a few early-season conference games as some conferences have already started to crank up conference play. That is not the case yet for the Big South though. Once Longwood joined this season, the Big South created a two-division setup that pushed back the amount of conference games to 16, meaning there would be no early season conference tests.
With conference play a week away, it left some schools with a need to fill in the gaps of their schedule in the holiday break. Unfortunately, that means a lot of non-DI matchups to finish off the slate for teams in the Big South if they are playing at home. This is why Coastal Carolina would be hosting Greensboro College in their last game before conference play starts up for them on Saturday at Longwood.
While Greensboro was not seen as such a bad opponent as Johnson & Wales
or Toccoa Falls
, they are still a Division III program nonetheless. The Pride had a respectable record of 5-3 and had also trounced the aforementioned Johnson & Wales, but was beaten rather soundly by their only other DI opponent, North Carolina A&T.
Needless to say, I was not all that excited for this game because of the level of competition. It also did not help that it was supposed to be one of five games I was supposed to be seeing in a three-day stretch. I was going to catch two games on Saturday, watch this potential snooze-fest, then drive down to Jacksonville for a doubleheader on New Year's Eve. Those plans crumbled quickly when I did not make it to any games on Saturday and found out I had to be at work on New Year's Day. My extended weekend of mid-major fun was now down to this game.
It had been eight days since I was last at a game, so there was that positive to it. In that last game, I watched CCU look
awful against a surging College of Charleston squad. If nothing else, the Chanticleers could use this as a boost of confidence leading into league play. One player in particular that needed a boost was Coastal's leading scorer Anthony Raffa, who was held scoreless by the Cougars.
Predictably, the crowd was the smallest on the season and probably could have been crammed into Kimbel Arena. There was no band, three cheerleaders and maybe a dozen or so students. When the starting lineups were announced, you could easily hear a very vocal contingent of 20 or 30 fans rooting for Greensboro that had made the trip.
As is the case when facing a non-DI school, Coastal had a noticeable size advantage as Greensboro's starting lineup had players between 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-5. Without any defensive presence in the post, the Chants drove into the paint early and often. Kierre Greenwood would easily beat his man and drive in for an uncontested lay-up. Greenwood would score 11 of CCU's first 15 points, but the Pride made sure to keep it close with some hot outside shooting.
Coastal has had a problem all year defending the three-point line, leaving many opportunities for open looks. In CCU's wins, the opposing team had been unable to hit those long jumpers, but Greensboro was sinking these opportunities. Luqman Tujani, who had 29 points against N.C. A&T, continued his hot shooting against DI competition. Tujani was getting help from his Pride teammates as threes from Brian Thomas and Tracy Jester gave Greensboro a 24-23 lead.
Greensboro could only manage ties and one-point leads as Coastal would answer with drives from Michel Enanga or kick outs and made jumpers from Warren Gillis. The Chants used a 7-0 run late in the half to get a little bit of breathing room and a 38-33 lead at the half. If Greensboro did not have 13 turnovers in the half. it very well could have been a lead for the Pride.
At the half I could overhear many fans' displeasure with what they were seeing with some younger fans questioning what division Coastal was in. I had seen Coastal struggle in the first half before against non-DI competition only to pull away in the second half. That same story seemed to unfold at first when Greenwood opened the half much like he did the beginning of the game with uncontested drives to the rim. Greensboro would not go away though. as a surprising alley-oop dunk by Tracy Jester was followed with another Tijani three, cutting the Chanticleer lead to 53-50.
For some reason, Greensboro called a quick timeout after Tijani's long range bomb. This gave Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis time to draw up a play which resulted in an alley-oop to Badou Diagne. That play started a big run by the Chanticleers. The full-court press started paying dividends for Coastal forcing a bunch of Pride turnovers. Raffa was able to get out of his funk as well with some breakaway steals and easy layups. The final damage would be a 23-5 outburst that put the game out of reach for Greensboro.
Greenwood ended up with a career high of 21 points to go along with eight assists and no turnovers. Obviously, that is how any team would want their point guard to play, especially heading into the conference season.
No matter what happens, the Big South Tournament will be hosted at the HTC Center, but that has not mattered much for Coastal lately, as they have lost two Big South title games on their home court in the past three years. That may happen again if the Chants cannot find some level of consistency this year. It will be interesting to see if they can make that happen with so many newcomers, but either way I am just glad league play is about to begin.
at COASTAL CAROLINA 85, GREENSBORO 65
COASTAL CAROLINA 5-6 (0-0) -- K. Greenwood 9-12 3-5 21; M. Enanga 6-13 0-2 12; E. Ndieguene 0-2 1-2 1; A. Raffa 9-18 1-2 20; W. Gillis 5-8 0-0 13; B. Diagne 3-6 0-3 7; T. Curtis 1-3 0-1 2; U. Ljeskovic 1-1 0-0 2; C. Ashford 1-1 0-0 2; J. Daniel 0-2 0-0 0; B. Addey 1-1 1-1 3; T. James 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 37-68 6-16 85.
Three-point goals: - , CCU 5-17 (A. Raffa 1-5; K. Greenwood 0-1; W. Gillis 3-4; T. Curtis 0-1; J. Daniel 0-2; B. Diagne 1-1; M. Enanga 0-3); Rebounds: , CCU 40 (B. Diagne 6); Assists: , CCU 18 (K. Greenwood 8); Total Fouls -- , CCU 18; Fouled Out: -; CCU-None.