Big South Conference Notebook
by Jeremy Dunlap
Gallup For Three
Conference play opened Sat., Jan. 3 with four games, and the most exciting one proved to be Liberty’s visit to Conway, S.C., to battle Coastal Carolina. With Liberty leading 65-64 down the stretch, Coastal Carolina’s senior guard E.J. Gallup hit a three-pointer with only eight seconds remaining to give the Chanticleers a 67-65 win over the Flames. Gallup hit two other three-pointers in the game on the way to a team-high 17 points, including one at the end of the first half to give the Chants a four point halftime lead.
New Kids on the Block
Over their last two provisional years in the Big South, Birmingham-Southern had proven that even though their games did not count in the standings, they were a team that could beat anyone in the league on any given night. On the first night of conference action, they built on that reputation and in their first-ever official Big South game, the Panthers went on the road and took out preseason favorite Winthrop, 61-54.
On the other hand, VMI did not make as good of a debut in their first Big South Conference game. The Keydets traveled to UNC-Asheville and lost 61-48. VMI is still searching for its first win over a Division I team this season.
Player of the Week
Coastal Carolina senior guard E.J. Gallup’s late game heroics against Liberty and a strong effort against a very talented North Carolina squad have earned him the Hoopville Big South Player of the Week honors for this last week. Gallup averaged 19 points in Coastal’s two games this week, helped by 7-for-12 shooting from beyond the three-point arc. This marks the second Coastal player to earn this honor – senior guard Brandon Newby was the other.
Birmingham-Southern Panthers (8-3, 1-0) Last Week: 2-0
It was an exciting and memorable week for BSC as they not only easily defeated a solid St. Peter’s team in the consolation game of the Shamrock Office Solutions Classic at St. Mary’s but also notched a victory in their first-ever official Big South Conference game. In the 75-59 win over St. Peter’s Dec. 29, the Panthers utilized a 42-23 rebounding advantage and 17-point nights by senior guards Derrick Williams and Jakob Sigurdarson to win rather easily over the Peacocks.
The Panthers went to the Winthrop Coliseum Jan. 3 and beat the Eagles 61-54, despite not making their first field goal until after the second media timeout. BSC was led by sophomore guard James Collins who scored 16 points off the bench. Senior forward Grant Davis scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help the cause, with two critical three-pointers during the second half that helped squelch rally attempts by Winthrop.
Birmingham-Southern will look to continue their winning ways with a trio of conference games. They will finish their current road-trip with a game at UNC-Asheville Jan. 5 before heading back home to face Coastal Carolina Jan. 8 and Charleston Southern Jan. 10.
Charleston Southern Buccaneers (3-9, 0-1) Last Week: 1-2
A good result finally occurred for Charleston Southern as they defeated a Division I team for the first time this season when they squeaked by Bethune-Cookman, 50-48, in the consolation game of the Jack in the Box Holiday Classic at Furman Dec. 30. The win followed a 66-50 first round loss to Lipscomb and preceded an 80-66 loss to High Point at home in CSU’s conference opener Jan. 3.
In the win over Bethune-Cookman, CSU won despite a shorthanded lineup with junior forward Kurtis Rice, sophomore guard Thomas Harrison and freshman guard Donnell Covington all missing the game. Junior forward Nathan Ball picked up the slack with 14 points and nine rebounds to lead the way for the Bucs. CSU had everybody back except for Covington against High Point, but the Bucs could not hit free throws (8-for-17) and could not take advantage of senior guard Ed O’Neil’s 13 assists in the loss to the Panthers.
The Bucs will stay home to take on Liberty Jan. 5 before heading to Birmingham-Southern Jan. 10.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (6-6, 1-0) Last Week: 1-1
The week started slowly for the Chants, as they traveled to the Dean Smith Center and got beat 105-72 by North Carolina Dec. 30, but opened the conference season and the New Year in style with a 67-65 home win over Liberty Jan. 3.
In the loss to the Tar Heels, Coastal could not compete with UNC’s 61 percent three-point shooting and a 28-13 turnover deficit. Senior guard E.J. Gallup was the only Coastal player in double figures with 21 points. Gallup was the hero as he led the Chants in scoring against Liberty with 17 points, including the game-winning three-pointer mentioned at the beginning of this notebook. Senior guard Brandon Newby chipped in with a double-double, scoring 13 points and getting 10 rebounds.
The Chants face the two teams with the best overall records in the conference this week. First, Coastal will host High Point (8-4) Jan. 5 then they will hit the road and take on Birmingham-Southern (8-3) Jan. 8.
High Point Panthers (8-4, 1-0) Last Week: 2-0
The wins continue to come for head coach Bart Lundy and the Panthers as High Point beat two different schools from Charleston, S.C., this week. High Point opened the week by hosting the Citadel Dec. 30 and defeating the Bulldogs, 94-70. The Panthers shot a blistering 65 percent from three-point range, including 4-of-4 from junior guard Javier Palacios. Palacios scored 16 points in the game, making all five field goals and both free throws that he shot in the game. Junior guard Zione White led the Panthers with 19 points and seven rebounds.
In their conference-opening 80-66 win at Charleston Southern Jan. 3, High Point was paced by junior forward Danny Gathings’ fifth double-double of the season. Gathings scored a team-high 19 points and gathered a team-high 14 rebounds in the game. The Panthers were able to shake off the pesky Buccaneers with a 15-4 run midway through the second half. This marked the sixth straight game and eighth overall in which High Point has scored at least 80 points in a game.
The explosive High Point offense will have three tough tests this week. The Panthers will travel to Coastal Carolina Jan. 5, host Winthrop Jan. 8, then go on the road to face Liberty Jan. 10.
Liberty Flames (3-10, 0-1) Last Week: 0-2
Liberty’s losing streak has climbed to five games with a pair of losses last week. The Flames wrapped up their trip to Tucson, Ariz., Dec. 30 and their appearance in the Fiesta Bowl Classic with a 74-52 loss to Valparaiso. The Flames only shot 30 percent as a team and freshman guard Larry Blair was their only player in double-figures, scoring 20 points.
The Flames traveled to Coastal Carolina Jan. 3 and lost a heartbreaker to the Chants, 67-65. Again, Blair led the Flames with 20 points. This time around, he did get a little more help as the team shot 48 percent and senior forward Gabe Martin scored 16 points in the losing effort.
The Flames will look to get back in the win column as they play three conference games this week. Their week starts on the road at Charleston Southern Jan. 5 before heading back home for games against UNC-Asheville Jan. 8 and High Point Jan. 10.
Radford Highlanders (4-6, 0-0) Last Week: 0-1
The Highlanders only had one game last week and they probably wish they did not even bother to play it. Radford went to East Carolina Dec. 30, and despite trailing by only 13 at halftime, the Highlanders ended up losing 87-50 to the Pirates. Radford struggled to put the ball in the basket the whole game, shooting only 30 percent from the field and only making 1-of-14 three-pointers. Sophomore guard Whit Holcomb-Faye almost got a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds to lead the Highs in both categories.
Radford is the last team in the conference to open league play, and they will tip-off their Big South slate with a trip to Winthrop Jan. 5. After their game against the Eagles, Radford will head back to Virginia to battle VMI on the road Jan. 8 then host UNC-Asheville Jan. 10.
UNC-Asheville Bulldogs (3-9, 1-0) Last Week: 1-1
UNC-A has had trouble early in the season, but if this last week is any indication, head coach Eddie Beidenbach may have his Bulldogs heading in the right direction, if a big injury does not slow his team down.
To open the week, UNC-A hung tough against Tennessee Dec. 30 before losing 80-67. The Bulldogs played evenly with the Volunteers, even holding a lead with nine minutes remaining before the Volunteers took control in the last eight minutes of the game. Sophomore guard Omar Collington scored 18 points to lead the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs were able to open their Big South season with a win Jan. 3, beating conference newcomer VMI, 61-48. The win may have come at a price though, as junior center Joseph Barber went down with a knee injury five minutes into the game. His status is unknown at this time. Junior forward Billy Allen played his best game of the season, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine boards. The team shot 90 percent from the free-throw line and held the visitors to only 36.5 percent shooting from the field.
UNC-A will try to get their first winning streak started when they host Birmingham-Southern Jan. 5. That game will be followed by a trip to Virginia with a Jan. 8 match up at Liberty and a Jan. 10 battle with Radford.
VMI Keydets (2-9, 0-1) Last Week: 0-2
Injuries have been a big problem for VMI so far this season. Junior forward Preston Beverly is going to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury and bad ankles have caused senior forward Radee Skipworth to miss half of VMI’s games so far and junior center Tim Allmond to miss both of last week’s games, which were both losses.
VMI opened last week with a lopsided loss at Old Dominion, 74-52 Dec. 29. The shorthanded Keydets only played eight players as senior guard Richard Little led the team with 17 points along with seven assists. In their first-ever conference game at UNC-Asheville Jan. 3, the result was not much better, as VMI lost 61-48. The Keydets did get some good news as Skipworth finally returned to the lineup and led the team with 20 points.
VMI will host their first Big South game in school history when they face Radford Jan. 8. After battling the Highlanders, the Keydets will be back on the road to take on preseason favorite Winthrop Jan. 10.
Winthrop Eagles (6-6, 0-1) Last Week: 1-2
The Winthrop lineup continued to get shaken by injuries after the Eagles traveled west to compete in the azcentral.com Hoops Classic in Tempe, Ariz., and entered conference play. At the tournament, Winthrop split a pair of games with Western Michigan and San Diego, losing to WMU 76-71 Dec. 29 and beating San Diego in the consolation game 70-66 the next day. Senior forward Tyrone Walker had a career game in the loss to Western Michigan, scoring 24 points and grabbing 20 rebounds and earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
During the tournament, freshman guard Torrell Martin, Winthrop’s second leading scorer, injured his knee, forcing him to miss the conference opener at home against Birmingham-Southern Jan. 3. Compounding the problems for the Eagles, junior center Josh Grant was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. With the short-handed lineup, which is also still missing junior guard Ivan Jenkins, Winthrop could not overcome the sharp three-point shooting of Birmingham Southern and lost 61-54. Martin’s status is unknown, but head coach Gregg Marshall has said that he could miss at least a few weeks based on initial reports.
The Eagles will be hoping for medical miracles this week as they have three conference games on their calendar. Winthrop will host Radford Jan. 5, travel to High Point Jan. 8, then return home to face VMI Jan. 10.