CONWAY — With the season less than a couple months away, the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team released its schedule Wednesday, revealing a slate highlighted by a marquee home game against perennial ACC and national power North Carolina.
The Chanticleers open on the road Nov. 9 at College of Charleston before coming home to play their first ever game in The HTC Center on Nov. 12 against North Carolina Central. Other non-conference highlights include a visit to South Carolina State and home tilts with Western Carolina and North Florida (in Myrtle Beach).
“Our schedule is tough, but you want to play good people to get us ready for conference,” coach Alan LeForce said. “We don’t have any seniors. We have two freshmen, four sophomores and [four] juniors, but we need to play. We just need to play good people. That’s the only way you get better.”
The Coastal women finished 13-15 overall and 6-12 in the Big South Conference last season and will be led by sophomore point guard Shatia Cole, who ranked second on the squad as a rookie with 10.5 points per game.
As for the new arena, LeForce is hoping for a packed house Dec. 16 – a Sunday afternoon – when the Tar Heels come to town and is hoping that the Chants can get other premier programs to come to Conway in coming years as well.
Coastal and North Carolina have played 14 times in the past with the Tar Heels winning all of those meetings, including two in Conway at Kimbel Arena in 1992 and 2007. LeForce said he and UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell are old friends dating back to her days at Francis Marion and were thus able to arrange to have the Tar Heels come visit for the inaugural season in the new arena
“Sylvia and I are good friends, and she’s good friends with the university here,” LeForce said. “And with our new facility, we’re going to be able to get good teams like North Carolina to come in. We may have to go two-for-ones where we go there twice for them to come here, but that’s OK. We need some big ones like that. We’re excited about it.”
The Coastal women’s basketball team got some bad news over the summer, meanwhile, when redshirt-freshman Keyaurna Wilson suffered a knee injury that should keep her out for the season.
Wilson, a former standout at Myrtle Beach High School, who missed all but two minutes of last season while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee, tore her other ACL last month, LeForce said.
“It really killed her for a while, but she’s getting over it,” he said. “That’s a tough break for a youngster to miss one year and work her tail off rehabbing – worked all summer getting ready – and about five weeks ago, I don’t even know if she was playing or working out, and it just went out. But talking to the doctors, they think ... it will be back as good as it ever was.”
LeForce had been counting on the 5-foot-10 Wilson playing a significant role this season.
“I hate it for her, but I also hate it for our team,” he said.
Men’s golf starts strong
The Chanticleers’ men’s golf team opened its season last weekend with an encouraging performance in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Coastal shot even par over three rounds to tie for second in the 16-team Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational while Colorado bested the field at 12-under, and individually senior Sebastian Soderberg tied for third at 5-under for the Chants.
“The fall season is more about developing and getting the guys ready for the spring season,” coach Allen Terrell said. “But obviously when you’re in contention, it’s more confirmation for the guys and for their hard work. So I’m definitely happy with our start.”
Also for Coastal, junior Roberto Ballesteros tied for sixth overall at 3-under and sophomore Andrew Dorn earned his first top-20 finish, tying for 20th at 3-over.
Soderberg, meanwhile, followed an opening-round 1-over 73 with rounds of 70 and 68 to climb up the leaderboard. A three-time All-Big South selection, he is being counted on to have a big season.
“Sebastian has been a guy who has gotten better every year, so I would definitely expect a better season than his past three,” Terrell said. “The hard thing sometimes with seniors is them getting a little bit ahead of themselves looking to their life after college, so we’re just trying to keep him super grounded and super focused and thankfully it’s paying off so far.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.