CONWAY — Coming off a loss to College of Charleston in the season opener, the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team bounced back in the home opener at The HTC Center on Monday.
AJ Jordan scored a game-high 15 points, and Myrtle Beach graduate Shatia Cole added 10 points as the Chanticleers defeated the North Carolina Central Eagles 58-39.
“This is our first game in the new arena and I think perhaps we might have had a little pressure on us, wanting to do well,” CCU coach Alan LeForce said. “That hurt us offensively. We missed too many shots and we turned the ball over 23 times, we can’t do that. Defensively, we were pretty good. The defense is keeping us in games, but we have to catch up on offense.
“We got some things to work on but we got the monkey off our backs by getting the win,” LeForce added. “We’re much better shooters than what we shot tonight. We had youngsters missing shots they don’t normally miss. But, a win is a win and I’m glad to get that and get it over with.”
The Chanticleers were 14-for-17 from the free-throw line, and shot 38.2 percent from the field. CCU also outrebounded the Eagles 48-32, and committed 23 turnovers.
“Our goal tonight was to shoot 75 percent from the line, we did that,” LeForce said. “Our goal was to shoot 42 percent from the field, we didn’t do that. Our goal was to outrebound them, we did that. Our goal was to have 12 turnovers but we exceeded that. If you do everything you set out to do, you’re usually going to win. But we have to work on shooting and limiting those turnovers.
“We shot really well,” LeForce said of the team’s free-throw shooting. “I think down in Charleston we shot 45-46 percent. We have some good shooters, and good shooters can make those free throws. We shot well from the free-throw line and we ought to be shooting better from the field.”
Jordan scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half, but turned the ball over seven times in the contest.
“AJ had seven turnovers. She shouldn’t be turning the ball over,” LeForce said. “She’s too good of a basketball player. She has good hands, she can move with the ball, she can put it on the floor and she’s a good player offensively. She really gave us the spark in the second half, but she throws what I call ‘high school passes’. You can’t do that in college. Well, you can but it isn’t going to turn out the way you want. She just needs to work on it.”
Cole added five rebounds, four assists and three steals with her points in 27 minutes.
“Shatia is struggling just a little bit on offense and shooting the basketball,” LeForce said. “But, defensively she has gotten better. She is learning to distribute the ball and get other people involved to make the play. She’s just getting better and better. Every game Shatia plays, she gets better.”
Katelyn Connor had nine points and five rebounds, Angelica Henry had eight points, five rebounds and four assists, Alexx Puckett had seven points, five rebounds and four blocks, and Kayla Cook had seven points, a game-high nine rebounds and three assists for Coastal.
CCU outscored the Eagles 32-20 in the paint. Coastal scored 18 points off turnovers, while North Carolina Central only had seven points off turnovers. CCU scored 16 fast break points, opposed to the Eagles’ two fast break points.
The Chanticleers will host Western Carolina on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“We got a tough team coming in here Saturday night,” LeForce said. “Western Carolina is really good. We played them last year and beat them, and they got the same group coming back so it should be a good one.”
Contact MAX McKINNON at 444-1767.