Zac Cuthbertson has led Coastal Carolina basketball as senior
Coastal Carolina advanced to the semifinals of the Roman College Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament in record-setting fashion Monday night in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Chanticleers blew out West Virginia 109-91 to record the most points in a regulation game by a Mountaineers opponent at the WVU Coliseum since it opened in 1970.
Redshirt freshman point guard DeVante Jones, the Sun Belt Conference freshman of the year, led six Chants in double-figure scoring with a career-high 32 points and added seven rebounds and seven assists.
With two wins in the 16-team CBI, the Chanticleers (17-16) are now in the semifinals and will travel to Chicago to face DePaul (17-15) of the Big East Conference at 8 p.m. Wednesday. DePaul defeated Longwood of the Big South Conference 97-89 at home Monday.
In the other semifinal, South Florida will face Loyola Marymount.
Coastal, which defeated Howard 81-72 at home last Wednesday in the opening round, reached the CBI’s best-of-three final series in 2017 in its only previous CBI appearance, losing to Wyoming in three games.
Only three teams had scored more than 100 points against WVU at the Coliseum – Kentucky, Notre Dame and Illinois State – and those games all occurred at least 44 years ago.
The 109 points were the most scored by CCU in a game since a 116-35 win over Piedmont International in 2015. Coastal’s previous high in points this season was 97 on March 2 in a win at Louisiana-Monroe. Coastal made 43 field goals in the 40-minute game.
West Virginia’s season of turmoil, which included the loss of several key players to injuries, suspensions and dismissals, ended with a 15-21 record and the most losses in a season in program history. The Mountaineers, who were ranked 13th in the AP Preseason Top 25 Poll released in October, were 4-14 in the Big 12 Conference before reaching the semifinals of the conference tournament.
The team discord continued Monday, as freshman center Derek Culver, who was suspended earlier in the season but led the Mountaineers’ late resurgence with 11.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, was held of of the entire first half by coach Bob Huggins. According to the West Virginia sports information staff, Huggins said on his postgame radio show that Culver was late for pregame team activities Monday.
Coastal, meanwhile, played with as much offensive cohesion as it has all season. Jones hit 10 of 15 shots from the field, including 6 of 8 three-point attempts, and hit all six of his free throw attempts.
Joining him in double figures were Tommy Burton with 16 points, Zac Cuthbertson (15), Ebrima Dibba (14) Ajay Sanders (11) and Tyrell Gumbs-Frater (11).
Cuthbertson’s 15 points gave him 597 for the third most in a season in Coastal history, moving him past Keke Hicks in 1993-94. He has also made 170 free throws this season, which is one from tying Robert Dowdell’s CCU single-season record set in 1989-90.
The Chants shot 58 percent from the field (43 of 74), 46.4 percent from three-point range (13 of 28) and 83.3 percent from the free throw line (10 of 12). The Chants also outrebounded West Virginia, which is third in Division I in offensive rebounding with 14.5 per game, 41-37.
Coastal led by 14 points at halftime and extended the lead to 25 points seven minutes into the second half by hitting eight of its first nine shots after halftime and scoring on its first 13 second-half possessions.
The game featured two coaches ranked in the top 15 in all-time Division I (or equivalent) wins, and two of the top five winningest active college coaches with at least five years at a Division I program. Huggins owns 860 victories and CCU’s Cliff Ellis earned his 842nd win from stops at Cumberland University in Tennessee, South Alabama, Clemson, Auburn and Coastal.
Ellis looks for career win No. 843 Wednesday in Chicago. DePaul went 7-11 in the Big East to finish 10th in the league and lost to seventh-seeded St. John’s in the first round of the conference tournament.
The Blue Demons are 14-6 at home in Wintrust Arena this season and are led by Second-Team All-Big East selection Max Strus, a 6-foot-6 senior guard who is averaging 19 points and six rebounds per game this season and led the Big East in minutes played, averaging nearly 37 per contest.