Coastal Carolina bowed out of the Sun Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, and may have had its season come to an end with an 80-50 loss to Louisiana-Monroe in the second round on Thursday.
ULM (18-14) advanced to the quarterfinals and will play third-seeded Georgia Southern at 8:30 p.m. Friday, while the Chants fell to 15-16 on the 2018-19 season.
Junior forward Tommy Burton had a team-high 15 points and added eight rebounds for the Chanticleers.
Coastal 2018-19 leading scorer and rebounder Zac Cuthbertson sprained his left knee in CCU’s regular season-ending loss to Troy on Saturday and played with a protective sleeve on the knee. He recorded nine points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes in what might have been his final collegiate game.
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ULM sophomore guard Michael Ertel recorded game highs with 20 points and seven assists, as ULM recorded 21 assists on 28 made baskets and shot 50 percent from the field while holding CCU to 30-percent shooting.
The first half consisted of streaks by both teams, though the Warhawks had bigger runs.
Coastal led 11-2 early before ULM went on a 17-2 run to take a 19-13 lead.
CCU responded with a 10-3 run to regain the lead 23-22, but ULM ended the half on a 19-8 run to take a 41-31 lead into halftime.
ULM opened up a 21-point lead six minutes into the second half with a 13-2 run that accounted for a 32-10 run through halftime, and the Warhawks were never challenged thereafter.
Both ULM, which had four one-point losses in conference play, and Coastal went 9-9 in the conference to tie for sixth in the 12-team league. But CCU won the tiebreaker by sweeping the teams’ two-game season series with a 92-81 win at home on Jan. 31 and 97-91 win on the road on March 2.
So the Chants earned a first-round bye and seventh-seeded ULM had to beat 10th-seeded Appalachian State 89-80 at home on Tuesday to advance to the remainder of the conference tournament at Lakefront Arena.
Coastal’s sixth-place league finish is its best in it three years in the Sun Belt since leaving the Big South Conference. The Chants went 3-0 against Big South teams this year, including a win at conference regular-season champion Campbell.
Ellis said Tuesday if the Chants lost in the conference tournament, he hopes they will garner a postseason bid to another tournament – likely the College Basketball Invitational or CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
“There’s the NIT, the CBI and CIT, and we want to go in and win and get to the NCAA but we want to get to a postseason just like a football team wants to get to a bowl,” Ellis said. “Our finish was strong and we’re in consideration, but we certainly don’t know at this point. . . . There are some great tournaments especially for the mid-majors.”
Teams are selected to secondary tournaments following Sunday’s selection of teams for the NCAA Tournament.
The Sun Belt championship game at 2 p.m. [Eastern] Sunday will be broadcast on ESPN2, and the winner will automatically be in the NCAA Tournament’s field of 68 teams.