Richard Ross had 19 points including the go ahead tip in to pace Old Dominion to a 68-66 win over Coastal Carolina in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in Norfolk, Virginia. The Chanticleers had two chances to take the lead in the final minute of the game as Sam McLaurin turned the ball over and Anthony Raffa missed a three pointer at the buzzer.
After getting dominated by UAB and Alabama in the NIT in 2010 and 2011, the Chants were competitive against the CAA school that was participating in its eighth consecutive post-season tournament. The Chants closed out the first half with a 6-0 run highlighted by a Sam McLaurin dunk at the buzzer to make it a 37-36 Monarchs lead at the half.
McLaurin scored the first four points of the second half to give Coastal the lead. The Chants led until the 9:09 mark when Donte Hill's three pointer gave the Monarchs a 55-53 lead. It appeared that ODU was going to run away with it when they scored the next seven points to go up by nine, but the Chants stormed back. McLaurin gave CCU its final lead at the 2:07 mark at 66-65, but Ross followed a miss to make it a 67-66 game with 1:27 to go. Ross would make one of two free throws with :32 seconds left setting up the final shot. Raffa shook off a double team and launched a high arching shot that was just off the mark. McLaurin led CCU with 20 points while Raffa chipped in 17.
Coastal played the game with just eight players. Senior Dexter Moore elected to stay back at school to focus on academics in order to graduate on time in May and fellow senior Jordan Griffin was in Kentucky to deal with a family matter. Chris Gradnigo remained suspended from the team after his arrest (all charges were dropped).
In the post game press conference, Cliff Ellis said he thought Raffa's shot was going in and that Coastal was going to get its first ever post-season win. He said playing competitive basketball against a seasoned tournament team like Old Dominion is a major stepping stone for the Coastal basketball program.
CCU finishes the season with a 19-12 record. The final Cliff Ellis Show will air this Sunday at 11:30 am on NewsChannel 15.