The Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team won six of its final eight games, but the second of the two losses Thursday night ended its season.
CCU, seeded seventh in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, was within three points of second-seeded Texas State with 1:30 to play but the Bobcats pulled away down the stretch for a 78-69 win in the tournament quarterfinals.
The Chanticleers finish the season 17-14 as one of the youngest teams in the nation, as guard Jas Adams is the team’s lone senior and ended her career with a typical performance.
Adams, who led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring in the regular season with 18.8 points per game, scored a team-high 22 points with nine assists and four rebounds and ended her career as one of the top 12 scorers in CCU women’s basketball history 1,206 points.
“I can’t say enough about Jas Adams. I think she has led her team for the entire year the way that any coach would love, and she continued to do that for us tonight,” Coastal coach Jaida Williams said in a post-game press conference.
Texas State improved to 22-8, and 2017-18 Sun Belt Player of the Year Taeler Deer, a senior guard, matched Adams’ game-high 22 points, added nine assists, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals, and made a few key plays down the stretch.
Two more experienced players – junior guard Toshua Leavitt and senior forward Ti’Aira Pitts – added 18 and 17 points, respectively, and Pitts hit five of eight three-point attempts for Texas State.
Coastal had earned its first Sun Belt Tournament win Tuesday in its second season in the conference with a 19-point victory over 10th-seeded Georgia State, while Texas State awaited with a bye. Freshman forward Alise Davis was the only Chant who joined Adams in double figures scoring with 13 points in 14 minutes.
“I’m really proud of some of our younger players for stepping up. Alise Davis did a phenomenal job for us,” Williams said. “Though we came up short, I think our young players got some great experience.”
The Chants held a seven-point lead early in the second half Thursday before a 14-2 Bobcats run that included a pair of Leavitt 3-pointers. The Chants were able to pull within a point on a pair of occasions thereafter, including as late as four minutes into the fourth quarter, but could never regain the lead.
Pitts hit her fifth 3-pointer with about 3 minutes left to give Texas State a five-point lead before a steal and layin by CCU freshman Kaylin West cut the deficit to three. A Leavitt steal and ensuing intentional foul to avoid a breakaway layup gave Texas State free throws and possession of the ball, resulting in three points that essentially sealed the win. The Bobcats’ final six points came at the free throw line.
With Adams leaving the program, the Chants could return their two juniors Breelyn Blanding and Jamie Williams, who combined for 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting Thursday, two sophomores including second-leading scorer D.J. Williams, who had just two points, and seven freshmen who helped CCU go 11-9 in conference play this season.
“I think our young players got some great experience here,” Williams said. “I think they are tough and I think they are hungry based on what I saw in that locker room after the game. They’re hungry and they are going to continue to get better. I am very blessed to coach this group of kids. I think they understand what it takes to get this far, but this isn’t as far as we need to go. We want to be in the NCAA tournament.
“. . . That’s going to be our goal from here on out.”