CONWAY, S.C. - No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina placed five players in double figures and shot 56.3 percent from the floor in the second half to defeat No. 4 seed UNC Asheville, 92-73, in the Semifinals of the 2010 Advance Auto Parts Men's Basketball Championship, Thursday, March 4 at Kimbel Arena on the campus of Coastal Carolina University. The Chanticleers advance to the finals for the first time since 2006 and will play No. 3 seed Winthrop on Saturday, March 6 at 4:00pm on ESPN2 for the Big South's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Coastal freshman Kierre Greenwood led all scorers with 17 points, while redshirt-senior Joseph Harris and redshirt-junior Chad Gray added 16 points each. Harris also had his 16th double-double of the year with a game-high 11 rebounds. Sophomore J.P. Primm led the Bulldogs with 16 points, while senior Sean Smith had 15.
Both teams traded baskets to open the contest and accounted for four ties in the opening four minutes, the last being 9-9 at 16:17. Coastal Carolina took control with a 21-8 run the next 10 minutes to take a 13-point lead at 30-17. The Bulldogs got within 11 points on John Williams' free throws with 6:37 remaining in the half that made the score 30-19, only to see the Chanticleers end the half on a 16-6 run to take a commanding 46-25 first half lead.
All nine players that played the first 20 minutes for Coastal Carolina scored at least three points, with Mario Edwards leading the way with nine. Harris had seven points and seven rebounds for Coastal. UNC Asheville's Matt Dickey had six points in the opening stanza, while Smith had five points. The Bulldogs managed just 33.3 percent shooting from the floor on 8-of-24 shooting.
The second half saw Coastal moved ahead by 25 points on Danny Nieman's layup with 14:18 remaining that made the score 58-33. Asheville continued to battle and trim the deficit, but a 12-2 Chanticleer run stretched the lead to 29 points at 70-41 at the 10:13 mark, forcing the Bulldogs to call a timeout. After several exchanges of baskets that left the margin at 79-49 with 5:27 to go, Asheville made it a closer game, going on a 17-1 run over the next 3:05 to trim the lead to 14 at 80-66. However, that was as close as the visitors would get, as the Chants were 10-for-12 from the charity stripe in the final minutes to seal the win.
Coastal Carolina and Winthrop will meet for the third time in the Big South Championship. Coastal won the first meeting in 1993 with Winthrop taking the last match-up in 2006. The Chanticleers are the seventh consecutive No. 1 seed to reach the Championship game. The Eagles are the first No. 3 seed to advance to the Big South title game since 1992.
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Cliff Ellis
"I thought we did a good job on both ends of the floor. I thought our bench did a great job in the first half. The only time we really slowed down was in the second half and we were trying to rest some players. We kind of got relaxed a little bit. I thought we played some really good basketball offensively and defensively. We knocked down shots and played great defense."
UNC Asheville Head Coach Eddie Biedenbach
"Coastal Carolina did a great job all season to be in position to host the Tournament. They had high energy tonight and very efficient play both offensively and defensively. I thought their offensive execution was excellent. For us to win tonight, we had to win by committee, and we had too many guys with subpar games. We played hard, but not well enough to beat a team as good as Coastal Carolina."