CONWAY After taking one of its most disappointing conference losses last month at Winthrop, the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team showed again Wednesday night just how different of a team it is at home.
The Chanticleers built a 17-point halftime lead and maintained a comfortable margin the rest of the way to coast to a 73-54 win over the Eagles on Senior Night inside The HTC Center.
Sophomore guard Warren Gillis notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, senior guard Anthony Raffa scored a game-high 18 and senior guard Kierre Greenwood finished with 16 points as the Chants won for the 10th time in their last 11 home games. More impressive is the fact that all but two of those wins have come by double figures, which is a considerable source of confidence as the team prepares to host the Big South Conference tournament next week.
“We’ve played extremely well at home. There’s not a team we can’t beat. There’s not a team that can’t beat us,” CCU coach Cliff Ellis said. “It’s going to be one kind of Big South Conference tournament, but we’ve got a shot. There’s several teams that have a shot. But we certainly will go into it [with confidence]. I know these guys feel a lot more comfortable at home than they do the road. I think the numbers bear that.”
Indeed, they do. When the Chants lost 61-48 in Rock Hill last month, they were outrebounded 39-27. In the rematch Wednesday night, Coastal (14-13, 9-6 Big South) made a demonstrative statement on the boards with a 45-26 rebounding edge -- including 16 offensive rebounds in the first half alone while the Eagles had managed just 12 boards total to that point.
It’s worth noting that Winthrop (12-16, 5-10) recently lost its leading scorer and leading rebounder to season-ending injuries, but the Chants made it clear from the start in this one that they were intent on making Senior Night a success.
They opened the game on a 9-0 run -- including five quick points from Gillis -- and then closed the first half on a 13-2 spurt. The game never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
“You always want to leave on your Senior Night with a win,” Greenwood said. “Family here. My family [doesn’t] often get to come down, so I kind of dedicated this to them.”
Greenwood, a four-year starter, added five assists Wednesday and ranks second in program history with 477. Raffa’s 18 points give him 1,424 for his career, leaving him 20 behind Joseph Harris for eighth-place all-time in the CCU record books.
“Coach said ‘Leave it all on the floor. This is your last regular-season home game,’” Raffa said. “Obviously we’re playing the conference tournament next week, but this is our last home game and we wanted to go out with a bang and that’s what we did.”
Coastal also recognized senior reserves Charles Ashford and Bisi Addey in the pre-game ceremony. Ashford tallied two points, an assist and a rebound in five minutes and Addey scored the final points of the game on a layup as Ellis put him in for the final minute with the crowd chanting Addey’s name.
“We certainly honored four guys that have meant a lot to our team, that have done good things on the road to graduating,” Ellis said. “... Bisi and Charles certainly have been a tremendous part of our practices. Although they haven’t played a lot of minutes, they’ve been very valuable to our team. But Raffa and Kierre, they helped turn this program around. I’m glad that we had this ki
nd of night.” NOTES: Joab Jerome led Winthrop with 16 points. ... With Gardner-Webb defeating Charleston Southern in overtime Wednesday night, Coastal is mathematically eliminated from contention for a first-round bye in the Big South tournament, meaning the Chants will open play Tuesday and need to win four games to claim the championship. Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.