CONWAY – Junior guard Tyrell Gumbs-Frater scored a game-high 22 points and Coastal Carolina staged a furious rally in the second half to earn an 81-72 victory over Howard University in a first-round game of the 2019 Roman College Basketball Invitational Wednesday night at the HTC Center.
With the win, Coastal Carolina improved to 16-16 on the season and it will advance to the second round of the 16-team post-season tournament at 7 p.m. Monday at West Virginia. West Virginia defeated Grand Canyon University in its first-round game Wednesday, 77-63. Howard, which was led by guard Charles Williams’ 17 points, finished its season 17-17.
Gumbs-Frater hit for 14 of his points in the second half, including a three-pointer with seven minutes remaining that put the Chanticleers in front, 60-57, and the Chanticleers led the rest of the way. Gumbs-Frater’s basket came in the middle of a 24-4 run that brought Coastal back from a 53-39 deficit.
Senior forward Zac Cuthbertson also came up big with 18 points and 13 rebounds, his eighth double-double of the season. Freshman guard Ebrima Dibba had 11 of his 13 points in the second half to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists. Dibba also hit an inside bucket to give Coastal its biggest lead of the night at 71-60 with 2:07 left. Coastal finished up its scoring with seven points from the free throw line.
“I am really proud of our bench; they won the game for us,” said Coastal head coach Cliff Ellis. “We had to go to our bench in the second half, and Tre (Brown) and Ty (Gumbs-Frater) hit shots. I can’t say enough about Zac (Cuthbertson) either. He had energy and scored for us.”
Coastal hit on 27-72 attempts from the field (38%), while Howard made 23-59 attempts (39%). Both teams made 10 three-pointers, and Coastal made one free throw more than Howard. But the Chanticleers owned the boards, with a 53-34 rebounding advantage.
The Chanticleers also held Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year R.J. Cole, a sophomore guard, to just 14 points on 4-18 shooting. He averaged 22 points a game on the season.