HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Behind a pair of second-half scoring runs, Coker rallied to top Anderson, 83-72, in South Atlantic Conference men's basketball action, Saturday afternoon at the DeLoach Center.
Anderson (8-6, 2-4 SAC) has dropped two straight for the first time this season, while Coker (3-9, 1-4 SAC) snapped a five-game losing streak by claiming its first league victory of the season.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior guard Gage Ellis posted his third double-double of the season with a game-high 22 points and a team-best 10 rebounds, while swiping three steals. Senior Randall Shaw added 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists, with junior guard Shawn Benard netting 12 points, handing out a game-high seven assists and swiping a pair of steals. Senior Jeremy Bouton added eight points and pulled down five rebounds.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Coker scored the first basket of the contest, with Shaw and Ellis answering on the other end to give AU its first lead of the game, at 4-2, just more than a minute into the contest. The Cobras countered with seven consecutive points over the next 59 seconds to claim a 9-4 advantage, before AU responded to even the score at nine apiece.
Moments later with the Cobras holding a tenuous, 14-11, edge Boynton connected on his first 3-pointer of the afternoon to ignite a 9-0 run by the Black and Gold over the next three-plus minutes as AU claimed a six-point lead – its' largest of the game – behind four straight points from Shaw.
Neither team was able to build more than a two-possession lead throughout the first half, with Coker breaking a 30-30 deadlock with six unanswered points over the final two minutes and taking a 36-30 lead into intermission.
The Trojans stayed within striking distance, chipped away and reclaimed a 43-42 lead on back-to-back traditional three-point plays – first by Ellis and then by Benard – less than five minutes into the frame, with AU pushing out to equal its largest lead, at 52-46, on a layup from Benard at the 13:02 mark.
But the homestanding Cobras countered with a 13-2 scoring outburst over the next three minutes to reclaim the advantage and would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
AU closed within three on two occasions – the latest at 61-58 – with 7:42 on the clock, but Coker responded with a 10-2 surge to open a double-digit, 71-60, advantage. With AU trailing by 11 and forced to foul in the final minutes, the Cobras were 5-of-6 inside the final minutes before Ellis dropped in back-to-back layups to get AU within 78-72 with 1:29 on the clock.
However, Coker's Preseason Second-Team All-Conference selection, Khalil Halls, connected on just his second trey of the afternoon to put the Cobras back up by nine with just a minute left in the contest.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Trojans were 4-of-20 (20.0%) from beyond the arc.
• The first half featured 10 ties and six lead changes.
• Coker won the battle of the boards, 40-33, and pulled down 12 offensive rebounds.
• The Trojans have swiped at least seven steals in five straight games.
• Gage Ellis has reached double-figure scoring in all 13 of his games.
• The Trojans have reached double-figure assists in four straight games.
• Shawn Benard has handed out at least four assists in 12 consecutive games.
Anderson will travel to Carson-Newman for a South Atlantic Conference matchup, Wednesday night. Tip-off versus the Eagles at Holt Fieldhouse in Jefferson City, Tenn. is slated for 8 p.m.