CONWAY – Sophomore guard DeVante’ Jones scored a team-high 16 points and had a chance to give Coastal its only lead of the game in the closing seconds, but his three-point attempt missed and Georgia Southern escaped with a 70-67 victory in a Sun Belt Conference game Thursday night at the HTC Center. The Chanticleers slipped to 8-6, 1-2 on the season while Georgia Southern improved to 9-6, 3-0 with its third three-point conference win of the season.
Coastal never led in the game and needed a late rally to make it interesting in the closing minutes. Junior guard Keishawn Brewton hit a couple of three-pointers in a 16-0 run for the Chanticleers to make it 56-56 with seven minutes to play. From there, however, Elijah McCadden hit a three-pointer for Georgia Southern and it led the rest of the way.
The Eagles made 15 three-pointers on the night and hit 6-8 free throws down the stretch. Coastal trailed by just two points, at 69-67, in the final seconds when Jones had an open three-point shot coming out of a time out. Georgia Southern grabbed the rebound and Calvin Wishart was fouled. He made the first free throw, but his miss on the second attempt didn't leave Coastal enough time to get off a final shot.
“We set a screen on the baseline and it gave DJ for an open look. It just didn’t go in,” said Coastal head coach Cliff Ellis of Jones’ shot at giving his team its first lead of the game. “We knew we had a chance coming down the stretch, but we missed some three-point shots and some free throws. The three-ball for Georgia Southern made the difference. We have 17 more of these, and the Sun Belt conference will go through the Georgia teams, in my opinion.”
Jones got scoring help from forward Tommy Burton, who had 15 points, and Brewton, who got all 11 of his points in the second half. Garrick Green added 10 points, all in the first half. Georgia Southern was led by Quan Jackson, who had 22 points, including six three-pointers.
Georgia Southern, which came into the game relying heavily on long-range shooting, proceeded to make 11 three-pointers in the first half alone (out of 13 made field goals). The Eagles went on an 11-0 run to take a 36-18 lead before Coastal climbed back into range with a 10-0 run of its own to help cut the margin to 40-28 at the half.
Wishart, a 35 percent three-point shooter on the season, came off the bench in the first half to hit 4-4 from long range for 12 points. And the Eagles finished with 15 long-range makes on 38 attempts. Coastal, meanwhile, struggled, hitting only 5-21 from beyond the arch. The Chanticleers also struggled at the free-throw line, where they made just 12-22, and just 4-10 in the final six minutes of action.