Matt Dickey's steal and three at the buzzer gave UNC-Asheville a 61-58 win at Kimbel Arena on Tuesday night. The Chanticleers tied the game at 58 on a Danny Nieman free throw and had three opportunities to take the lead in the final minute, but ultimately did not get a shot off. It started with a possession that saw the ball go off a UNCA defender and give CCU another chance with :05 left on the shot clock, but Anthony Raffa turned it over. When Dickey missed a three pointer for the win, Raffa got the ball and called the timeout with 2.8 seconds left. Brandon Crawford attempted to get the ball to Chad Gray at mid-court, but the pass was deflected by Jaron Lane and into the hands of Dickey who nailed a long three as time expired.
CCU was led by Raffa with 15 points. Chad Gray, the lone senior honored in the home regular season finale, had 14 points and Sam McLaurin added 13. Lane led the Bulldogs with 16 points. CCU is now 25-4, 15-2 in Big South play.
WPDE Sports Director Rich Chrampanis, host of the Cliff Ellis Show, was at the game and offers his post-game analysis
A PAIR OF BUZZER BEATERS
Coastal has been the team that has closed out the first half with such stellar play (10 games CCU has ended the half with a bucket), but on Tuesday night it was UNC-Asheville. Chris Stephenson beat the buzzer to give the Bulldogs a 32-29 lead at the break. Jaron Lane is the unsung hero on the game winner. He timed his leap to get a piece of Brandon Crawford's pass. Dickey had great instincts to step in front and steal it and his shot was dead on. Coastal fell behind on two occasions in the second half and put itself in a position to win a gutsy game. The final minute was a nightmare for the Chanticleers. Three times they had their hands on the ball in the final 60 seconds and no shot was taken. Cliff Ellis put it best: "Better now than next week". Coastal can learn from these mistakes and do better in crunch time.
Dexter Moore fell hard to the floor midway through the second half picking up his fourth foul and did not return to the game. With just eight players, the last thing CCU needs is another injury, but it appears that Dexter is OK and should be ready to go on Saturday at Charleston Southern.
With just eight players in action, CCU can't afford to get into foul trouble, yet they did in the first half against UNCA. Chad Gray and Sam McLaurin both picked up two fouls before the ten minute mark of the first half. In the past, two fouls used to mean sitting on the bench until the second half, but Cliff Ellis doesn't have that luxury anymore. Give credit to both Gray and McLaurin who played smart. Gray and Dexter Moore both had four fouls.
DESMOND HOLLOWAY UPDATE
None. It can come tomorrow, it could come next week. It's a mystery and will remain one until CCU gets its press release prepared.
THE NEW REALITY
Tuesday night was a tournament simulator. Coastal has gone from the big bully on the block to the underdog. CCU was the heavy favorite to win it all two weeks ago and now the odds are stacked against them. The Chants were gutsy and played well in digging itself out of a couple of second half deficits.
Saturday doesn't really matter, but it's a chance for CCU to continue to hone its new formula. They have to act as if Desmond Holloway is done for the year. If Coastal loses on Saturday at Charleston Southern, the underdog role will magnify that much more. Make no bones about it, Coastal doesn't have the swagger anymore and everyone in the conference thinks the trip to the NCAA's is now up for grabs. As Ellis said earlier in the week, if Coastal can put together three wins next week, it will be a great story, a huge story.