Comeback lifts Camels at Coastal 81-75; gives Robbie Laing 100th coaching victory

Robbie Laing
(photo by Bennett Scarborough)
Robbie Laing (photo by Bennett Scarborough)

CONWAY, S.C. – Campbell rode a late 17-8 run and went on to defeat Coastal Carolina 81-75 Tuesday night in Big South Conference men's basketball action at Kimbel Arena.

Eric Griffin scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the year as the Camels (16-11, 10-5) provided Robbie Laing with his 100th coaching win.  Darren White came off the bench to add 16 points, Trey Freeman scored 12 and Lorne Merthie added 10 for Campbell, which shot 62 percent (18-29) from the floor in the second half.

Coastal (17-6, 10-3) extended a 34-31 half-time lead to as many as 11 and held a 52-42 edge when Dexter Moore hit a jumper with 12:34 to play.

However, the Camels answered with a 20-10 burst to tie the score at 62 on Freeman's foul shots with 7:45 left. 

Griffin's triple with 6:58 to go broke the deadlock, but Coastal pulled within one (69-68) after Warren Gillis' scored on the left blocks with 4:49 to go.  However, Griffin started a decisive 10-2 burst with a bucket in the paint, White drove the lane for a two-handed slam, and threes from Freeman (at the end of the shot clock) and Merthie put CU in front 79-70 with 2:04 to play.

Griffin connected on 9-of-15 from the field and 6-of-7 from the line and dealt 3 assists, while blocking two shots and making 2 steals in 34 minutes.  CU finished the night shooting 53.7 percent (29-54) from the field, 9-of-21 from 3-point range (.429) and 14-of-15 from the foul line (.933).

Campbell swept the season series from the Chanticleers, marking the first time since 2008-09 that Coastal has dropped both regular season games against a league opponent.  The Camels defeated Coastal 70-65 in overtime on Jan. 2 at Buies Creek.

Chris Gradnigo led Coastal Carolina (17-6, 10-3) with 20 points on 9-of-17 shooting, while Dexter Moore added 17 – 12 in the first half – hitting 4 threes in the process.  Sam McLaurin, Jon Pack and Kierre Greenwood chipped in 10 each for Coastal, which hit 47.6 percent from the field.

Coastal made only 8-of-17 (.471) from the foul line to see its four-game win streak halted.

Tuesday's game matched two of the country's top-five shooting teams.  Coastal ranked 2nd nationally with a .501 mark before the contest, while Campbell was tied for fourth at .499.

Campbell made 4 of its first 5 shots and jumped to a 9-0 lead.  However, Dexter Moore scored 9 points in a 16-4 Chanticleer burst capped by Chris Gradnigo's turnaround jumper with 5:16 left that left Coastal in front 29-22.

The Camels clawed back within 32-31 after Griffin and Merthie made both ends of 1-and-1 free throw attempts.  Gradnigo's follow slam with 5 seconds left in the period gave Coastal a 34-31 edge at the break.

Coastal hit 13-of-27 (.481) shots in the opening period, including 8-of-10 at one point.  The Camels made 11-of-25 (.440) from the floor and all 6 of their free throws before the break.

A 6-foot-8 senior from Orlando, Griffin scored 10 first-half points on 4-of-8 shooting.  Moore hit 3-of-5 threes and converted a 3-point play to lead Coastal with 12 points before the break.

Griffin entered the game atop the Big South and ranked 6th nationally with a 62.9 field goal percentage.  He has scored in double figures in 18-straight games, the longest active stretch of any Big South player.

Merthie enters Thursday's Senior Night game vs. Winthrop (7:00) only 2 points shy of becoming the 25th player in CU history (since '61-62) to reach 1,000 in his career.  Merthie, Griffin and Amir Celestin will be making their final home playing appearance at Gilbert Craig Gore Arena.