By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
After a disappointing start to the Sun Belt Conference play, the South Alabama Jaguars men’s basketball wanted to make a fresh start. Last Thursday, the Jaguars lost their first conference game of the season with an 81-71 home loss to the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
The Jaguars knew they needed a fresh start in a short turnaround two days later last Saturday when they hosted the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. This game was highlighted by sloppy offensive performances and aggressive defenses for both teams. In the end, the Jaguars ran out of steam and were more emotionless as they lost to the Chanticleers with an 81-69 score.
In the first half, the Jaguars were looking to stay more composed and play with fire after their loss to the Mountaineers on Thursday. With 8:14 minutes left in the first half; the Jaguars found themselves in a 19-12 deficit. Both teams were shooting the ball inconsistently and taking too many careless shots. The Chanticleers were 8-for-22 in field-goal percentage (36.4%) but made 2-of-4 in their three-point shooting. The Jaguars were 4-of-17 (23.5%) from field-goal percentage and 3-for-9 from three-point efficiency.
The first half ended with a 33-21 score in favor of the Chanticleers. Forward Josh Ajayi led the Jaguars in total points scored with seven with five of those points coming from the free-point line. The Chanticleers did not give Ajayi and the Jaguars much opportunity to go to the basket and score inside the paint with their strong defense. Guard Chad Lott was 1-for-5, guard Andre Fox was 1-for-8, and forward Trhae Mitchell was 1-for-5 in shots selection in the first half. Guard Herb McGee was 2-for-3 in shot selection with both of those shots being behind the three-point arc. The Jaguars made only 20% of their overall shots (6-for-30) and three-point shots (3-for-15) in the first half.
South did not find themselves in a better situation in the second half as they were down mostly between 15 to 19 points until the game was down with less than five minutes left. The Jaguars were able to get the game back within 11 points thanks to the overall shooting of Chad Lott and some surprising three-point shots from Don Coleman.
The Chanticleers continued to outhustle, outrebound, and outmaneuver the Jaguars in every key situation. Coastal Carolina led as many as 18 points with 41 seconds left in the game until the Jags cut the lead to 12 points where the game ended in an 81-69 Chanticleers victory.
Guard Chad Lott finished the game with 19 points (7-for-15 from overall shots), six rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. The Jaguars faced foul troubles as Lott and K.K. Curry, the team’s top defensive bench player, both fouled out. South was outmatched in the rebounding portion of the game as Coastal Carolina accounted for 53 total rebounds (17 offensively) while South only accounted for 23 total rebounds (seven offensively).
The Jaguars did shoot better in the second half by shooting 15-for-29 (51.7%) in their shots and 5-for-11 (45.5%) from the three-point arc. South’s defense was inefficient in the second half as the Chanticleers shot 17-for-30 (56.7%) in their total shots and 4-for-6 (66.7%) from the three-point arc.
After the game, head coach Richie Riley acknowledged the poor start to Sun Belt Conference plays. In the press conference, coach Riley said, “We’ve got to form some consistency of what it takes to win.” He mentioned changing the team attitude and passion to get to a better stretch down the season.
The Jaguars men’s basketball team (6-6; 0-2 in Sun Belt Conference play) will return from their Christmas break to face their in-town rivals in the Mobile Rams (5-5) this upcoming Saturday, December 28th.