Game #9-388: Campbell Fighting Camels at Coastal Carolina ChanticleersJanuary 26, 2013 7:00 pm
Sometimes things do not work out as planned. I had a big plan at the beginning of the season to try to get to close to 70 games this season and mapped out an ambitious schedule months in advance. Unfortunately, lack of sufficient funds has caused me to curb much of my travel. Until that glorious tax return money comes in, I would only be making it to Coastal Carolina home games for the next few weeks since the money for those tickets had been spent long ago.
I actually had two tickets to the game between Coastal and Campbell since a friend of mine could not go. I knew exactly who to invite and sent TMM8 veteran and now TMM9 uber-guest Gary Moore
a tweet. Gary had given me his extra ticket a few weeks back to see South Carolina State and South Carolina play
so I knew I had to return the favor. He accepted the offer and would head to Conway after catching an afternoon South Carolina game.
Since Gary was a CAA guy, this would be his first Big South game since moving down to South Carolina. He was interested to see Darren White from Campbell play, since he was familiar with him from being a transfer from James Madison. I let him know that White was out for the year and that the Camels had to reinvent themselves. But Campbell was doing a good job of it, going 4-1 since the injury and looking pretty good in the previous game I saw them in against Radford
I did mention to Gary that they had a VCU transfer Reco McCarter, but he explained that the once highly-recruited McCarter was more of a punchline for the Rams and only saw time when games were well out of hand.
Coastal Carolina was coming off of a loss to UNC-Asheville on the road, where they are a completely different team. The Chants have only one road win on the season, and that was against lowly Longwood (sorry Parks). Meanwhile, Coastal had yet to drop a conference home game. CCU's defense has been the main factor at home, as they recently held VMI to less than 50 points for the first time in several years. That same VMI team was the Big South North Division leader when they came to Conway and lost. Now Campbell was atop the division as they made the trip to visit CCU.
While Coastal's defense and rebounding are consistent throughout, the offense usually takes some time to get going. That is why I was surprised when the Chants jumped out to an early 12-4 advantage. The Camels were doing their part by missing a bunch of close-range shots. Darian Hooker knocked Campbell out of their early funk by hitting a couple of threes and cashing in on a four-point play.
With the score knotted at 22, the two teams battled each other defensively as neither could get any easy looks. It was not until Anthony Raffa hit a superhoop to break the tie, and Kierre Greenwood added two more scores in the lane right before the half to give Coastal a 29-22 halftime lead.
The Camels stayed at 22 for quite some time as Coastal scored the first six points of the second half. Coastal could have extended the lead even further, but each team was taking turns turning the ball over to each other. It took a Trey Freeman lay-in to end the 11-minute drought for the Camels, but by then Campbell was already down 13. That is hardly an insurmountable lead, but once CCU started taking better care of the ball, they pushed the lead even further as Campbell could not keep Raffa and Greenwood out of the lane.
The lead for the Chanticleers quickly ballooned to 20 at 50-30. This game was following a very familiar trend of Coastal struggling in the first half then running away from their opponent in the second half with an occasional late push from the opposing team. That late push came from Camels reserve forward Leek Leek (no that is not a typo). Leek was the only Camel player who could get his shot to fall and his three-pointer with 5:00 to go put it at 58-44.
The flow of the game had come to a screeching halt as the Camels started to intentionally foul Coastal center El Hadji Ndieguene every time down the floor. This "Hack-a-Hadji" strategy only worked to a point, since the normally poor free-throw shooting Senegalese center was making his foul shots. A somewhat competitive game in the beginning was turning into a bore as the Camels continued to foul and could get no closer than 13 points. Ever-so-slowly, time finally ticked away and the Chanticleers ended up with 73-59 victory.
Coastal is an interesting team to watch at home. While Campbell was without Darren White, it was still a nice win for the Chants over a team that had been gaining momentum. I was hoping for a closer game to introduce Gary to the Big South (Gary's recap can be found here
). He mentioned that he may make it back to Conway for the Big South Tournament and I hope that he does so he can get a chance to see how competitive this conference has been this season. For me, I would be seeing plenty of Big South action, but unfortunately it will only be in Conway for the next few weeks.