CONWAY Well, Coastal Carolina’s rematch with Boston certainly went better than the teams’ clash last week.
But not better enough to snap the Chanticleers’ losing streak against Division I competition or assuage concerns about the team’s offensive limitations.
Eight days after humbling Coastal with a 30-point rout in Boston, Mass., the Terriers followed Thursday night with a more competitive 69-63 win over the Chants before an announced crowd of 2,768 inside The HTC Center.
The numbers were no doubt better for the Chants (2-5) -- higher shooting percentage, fewer turnovers -- but the team’s chief issue was on display again as senior guards Kierre Greenwood and Anthony Raffa took 20 of the team’s 31 shots in the second half while the offense bogged down at times and the squad’s young supporting cast proved too inconsistent to trust down the stretch.
CCU head coach Cliff Ellis says he saw improvement, though.
“First of all, we played a very good basketball team that makes you pay,” Ellis said. “I think this is a team we’ll see in the NCAA tournament. Outside of Ole Miss, this is the best team we’ve played. We didn’t play bad. ... I am disappointed, but I’m not disenchanted because I did see some thing that are very positive. I think it’s starting to show.”
That 30-point loss last week at Boston was the most lopsided defeat in Ellis’ six years at Coastal, so comparatively speaking, yes, things went much better Thursday night.
The Chants were within three points after Greenwood nabbed a steal and converted a layup on the other end to make it a 62-59 game with 2:14 remaining. Boston (3-5) answered right back with a 3-pointer from junior Travis Robinson, though, and the Terriers maintained at least a four-point margin the rest of the way.
Coastal simply couldn’t find enough help for Greenwood and Raffa as the two combined to score 11 of the team’s final 13 points over the last five minutes. Greenwood scored a game-high 19 on 9-of-14 shooting while Raffa was frequently double-teamed and held in check again by Boston, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds on 5-of-13 shooting. It was his second quiet game in a row after entering last week leading all Division I players in scoring.
“They did the same thing to me up there,” Raffa said of the defensive pressure he faced. “They wouldn’t let me get the ball. I mean, the kid was 6-5 guarding me. I’m probably going to see that all year, so I’ve just got to prepare for it.”
Junior center El Hadji Ndieguene and freshman forward Uros Ljeskovic each scored eight points for Coastal, which shot 50 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers after having 23 in the last meeting with Boston.
Junior forward Dom Morris led the Terriers with 18 points and seven rebounds and Robinson scored 15 points while connecting on all five of his 3-point attempts.
As for the Chants, Ljeskovic played a season-high 27 minutes off the bench (his previous high was 12), and Ellis said he sees the 6-foot-8 rookie starting to find his comfort zone within the system. His hope is that Ljeskovic and Ndieguene can start to provide more of an offensive impact inside to help ease the burden on the senior guards.
It’s all part of the growing process for this young team -- a process that has had its bumps so far as Coastal has now lost five straight games against Division I competition after a season-opening win over Akron.
“I am not dejected about our team at all,” Ellis said. “We still have a chance to be good. It’s just so many players that are playing for the first time, and it just takes a while.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.