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LU Men rally to beat Coastal Carolina in home debut

VO COASTAL vs LU HOOPS.jpg

BEAUMONT, Texas – Senior James Harrison scored a game-high 17 points and classmate Joey Frenchwood hit a step-back jumper with 13 seconds to put the wraps on a thrilling second-half rally to defeat Coastal Carolina Tuesday evening, 66-60, at the Montagne Center. The victory moves Lamar University to 2-0 to start the new season.

Harrison was one of three Cardinals to score in double figures as LU finished the night shooting nearly 38 percent from the field, which included a 42-percent effort in the second half. The Cardinals picked up the intensity in the final 20 minutes as they shot better from the field, three-point range and at the free throw line compared to the opening half.

In addition to Harrison’s 17 points, senior Zjori Bosha and junior Josh Nzeakor each added 12 points.

“We obviously didn’t start very well tonight,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “But we knew coming into the second half we just needed to remain poised and play one possession at a time. We broke the second half down into four-minute games and we just wanted to win each four-minute battle. We felt like if we could come out of the four-minute media time outs winning those battle we could peck away at that lead and possibly win the game. That is what happened tonight.”

It was quite the opposite for the Chanticleers who couldn’t seem to miss in the opening half. Led by Jaylen’s Shaw’s 17 points – 14 of which came in the opening 20 minutes, Coastal Carolina started the game shooting nearly 52 percent in the first half, including six three pointers.

The start to Tuesday’s game was in stark contrast to that of the season opener Friday at Tulsa. LU’s first two possessions resulted in an 0-for-3 at the free throw line when Bosha was fouled attempting a three, followed by a turnover. The Cardinals didn’t score their first basket until the 15:35 mark on a layup from Nzeakor. The Red and White trailed by four at point and it only got worse from there.

Coastal’s Matt Lindsey drilled a three-pointer with just over 11 minutes remaining to give the Chanticleers their first double-digit lead of the game, 16-5. The Cardinals responded with two Torey Noel free throws and then a layup from the Midwest City, Okla., native to cut the deficit to seven point before CCU went on a run to push the lead to 12 points. Moments later the Cardinals found themselves down 15 following an and-one from Amidou Bamba.

The Cardinals closed the half on a 16-8 run to cut the deficit to seven points, 35-27, heading into the locker room. Big Red finished the opening half converting just 7-of-22 (.318) attempts and only 3-of-10 (.300) from beyond the arc.

The second half started in similar fashion to the first as CCU pushed their advantage back to 12 points before the Cardinals got a three ball from Bosha to set up Harrison’s hot half. With LU trailing by six, Harrison drilled a three-pointer – his second in less than a minute – to pull the Cardinals within three, 48-45, with just under 13 minutes remaining. It was the first time the Cardinals had pulled to within a single possession since the 13:01 mark of the opening half.

“We got some big shots from James Harrison tonight – huge shots,” said Price. “We hadn’t planned on playing Joey (Frenchwood) as many minutes as we did tonight, but when he is in the game he gives us a different dimension. Zjori quietly went about having another solid game for us.”

After pushing the lead back to five on a layup from Zac Cuthbertson, Harrison hit another three-pointer to pull the Cards within two, 50-48. LU finally pulled even on two free throws from senior Colton Weisbrod with 8:17 remaining. Despite tying the game, nearly four minutes would run off the clock before the Cardinals grabbed their first lead of the night on a Nick Garth three-pointer (57-55).

Following the three-pointer, the Chanticleers would take back the advantage one more time with 2:12 remaining. The Cardinals reclaimed the lead with two Nzeakor free throws at 1:49, but Frenchwood put the game on ice with his jumper at 13 seconds on the clock. Frenchwood came off the bench to score seven points, dish out five assists, record four steals and three rebounds.

For all of their hot shooting to start the game, CCU cooled off in the second half converting just 9-of-27 (.333) attempts, including a 2-of-7 (.286) from the free throw line.

Tuesday’s game won’t be the final time LU sees Coastal this season. The Cardinals will repay the visit traveling to Conway, S.C. on Dec. 2nd.

The Cardinals return to action Thursday to host Jarvis Christian. The game against the Bulldogs will tip off at 7:30 p.m. from the Montagne Center, and is part of a scheduled doubleheader with LU women.

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