CONWAY, S.C. - Despite a furious second-half VMI comeback, Coastal Carolina University pulled off an 82-73 win in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Advance Auto Parts Men's Basketball Championship, Tuesday, March 2. Coastal Carolina, the No. 1 seed, advances to the Semifinals for the first time since the 2005-06 season and will play No. 4 UNC Asheville Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. live on ESPNU.
The Chanticleers started the game with a 14-2 run over the first five minutes, spurred by senior Logan Johnson's eight points, including a pair of three pointers and a crowd-pleasing dunk. After several exchanges of baskets, Keydet freshman Stan Okoye hit two straight jumpers to pull the game within eight at 23-15 with 7:59 left in the first. However back-to-back lay-ups by redshirt-junior Chad Gray and Johnson started another 10-2 Chanticleer run, giving the Chanticleers a 33-17 advantage with 4:33 remaining the half. VMI chipped away at the lead, cutting it down to 11 at 36-25 late in the first, but a pair of Johnson three-pointers helped the Chants to a 44-29 lead at the intermission.
Johnson finished the half with 19 points, tying his career-high and going 5-for-9 from beyond the arc. For the Keydets, Keith Gabriel and Okoye led with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Coastal nearly doubled VMI on the boards in the first half, out-rebounding the visitors 25-13. The Chanticleers opened the second half strong, going on a 15-6 run over the first five minutes to build a 24-point lead at 59-35, their biggest of the game. The two teams exchanged baskets until the Keydets started a surge with just over 10 minutes to play, going on a 15-5 run over the next six minutes, shrinking the lead to just eight at 70-62 with 4:38 to play. From there, the two teams battled back-and-forth, as the Keydets got it down to seven at 75-68 with 1:21 remaining in the game. However, the Chanticleers were solid at the charity stripe in the closing minutes, hitting 5-for-6 from the stripe in the final seconds of the game to prevent an epic comeback.
The Chanticleers finished the game shooting 42 percent (26-for-69) from the field, while VMI ended the game shooting 44.8 percent (26-for-58) from the floor. The Chanticleers out rebounded Keydets 41-38, and outscored the visitors 15-4 off turnovers. Johnson and Gray led the Chanticleers with 21 points each, with Johnson hitting a new career-high. Joseph Harris posted his 15th double-double of the season with 12 points and 16 rebounds, while VMI's Gabriel scored a game-high 27 points and Okoye added 21.
COASTAL CAROLINA HEAD COACH CLIFF ELLIS
"It was a great effort from VMI. I thought they really played well. We had some guys that played tremendously, including Logan's 19 points in the first half, Joe's 13 rebounds and Chad's (Gray) scoring inside. I thought they were pivotal to our team. I thought both teams played really well. We had control of the game, but VMI wouldn't let us pull away. I'm proud to get the win and we move on to the next challenge.
VMI HEAD COACH DUGGAR BAUCOM
"Congratulations to Coastal. They don't have any weaknesses. They have guys who can shoot it and guys who can handle it, and certainly guys who can rebound it when they do miss. In the first half, we did a decent job on Joe (Harris) even though he had 10 rebounds, but Logan Johnson killed us from the three-point line. Mario Edwards went 1-for-9 from 3-point range in the first half, but Johnson picked it up and finished. I am proud of my guys, we competed and came back from being down 24 and kept battling. I was proud of the way we competed as young as we are. Our game plan was to pack in the zone and play percentages. If Coastal shot like they did the second half for the whole game, that would have been a great game."