The Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team got off to such a sluggish start Saturday at Western Carolina it didn’t even matter that the Chanticleers outscored the Catamounts by 10 points over the final 20-plus minutes.
This one was decided early, and not even a solid second half could lend any suspense to the afternoon for Coastal as the team’s season-long struggle on the road continued.
Western Carolina led by as many as 20 points before halftime and coasted from there on the way to an 80-70 win over the Chants in the teams’ Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters matchup at the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, N.C.
“We had seven turnovers at the first media timeout. First four and a half minutes of the game, we had seven turnovers,” CCU coach Cliff Ellis said by phone afterward. “We had 15 for the whole game -- seven in the first five minutes. And that was a big key. It set the tone. It opened up Western Carolina to be able to get some easy baskets, and I thought that was a big thing.”
Western Carolina (12-17) certainly made it look easy, at least. The Catamounts shot 60-percent from 3-point range (9-of-15) and never lost control after taking a 36-21 halftime lead. Brandon Boggs scored 26 points off the bench to lead the way while James Sinclair added 17 and knocked down 4-of-5 3s.
Coastal (13-13) shot just 36.2 percent overall and was led by 20 points from senior point guard Kierre Greenwood and 19 from senior guard Anthony Raffa.
The game was tied 12-12 early in the first half before the hosts launched a 22-4 run that swayed the game in their favor for good. Boggs’ 3-pointer with a little less than two minutes to go in the half peaked the Catamounts’ lead at 36-16, and Coastal came no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“They took us out of our offense. We didn’t take them out of theirs, and we just dug too big of a hole,” Ellis said.
It was brief detour into non-conference play for the Chants, who will gladly forget about this one and turn their attention back to their final two Big South games and their hopes of making a run through the conference tournament.
They return to action Wednesday with a home game against Winthrop before closing the regular season next Saturday at Charleston Southern.
“We’ve got two games left, and we’ve got the Big South tournament,” Ellis said. “We’ve got to focus on what we’ve got next, and seeding is still in play.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.