ANDERSON, S.C. – Coker rallied from a second-half double-digit deficit and the Trojans misfired on seven-of-eight free throws inside the final 22 seconds, as the Cobras edged Anderson, 83-81, in South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball action Saturday afternoon at the Abney Athletic Center.
Anderson (9-5, 4-4 SAC) has suffered back-to-back home setbacks for the first time since suffering three consecutive losses during the 2007-08 season, while Coker (7-5, 4-4 SAC) has won two of its last three outings.
The Trojans’ drained a season-high 11 treys, but their prolific 3-point shooting was offset by their second-most turnovers (17) of the campaign and led to 24 points by Coker. Anderson held a 31-30 edge on the boards and shot 52.8 percent on the afternoon, compared to 46.8 percent by Coker.
Senior guard Chandler Hash poured in a game-high 32 points on the strength of a season-best six 3-pointers and was 10-of-11 from the free throw line. Senior guard CJ Gleaton, who has reached double figures in five of the last six games, added 22 points. Senior Kyle Sledge recorded a game-high eight rebounds.
Coker senior guard Julian Nelson paced the Cobra attack with 25 points, with junior guard Larry Felder tossing in 15 points. Senior guard Teon Beckett and sophomore guard Trey Marshall each added 14 points apiece.
“We had stretches where turnovers really hurt us,” said Anderson head coach Jason Taylor. “[Coker] is tough and we did not make plays at the end.”
Meeting for the first time since the 2009-10 season, Gleaton and Hash struck early by draining back-to-back 3-pointers as Anderson jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, while the Trojan defense held Coker scoreless for the opening four minutes of the contest. Nelson netted one-of-two from the line with exactly 16 minutes left in the first half to get the Cobras on the scoreboard.
Leading, 8-3, the Trojans opened a double-digit lead behind a 10-2 spurt and claimed the game’s largest lead, at 33-19, on Hash’s long-range trey with 6:29 left in the opening frame.
But Coker Countered with a 13-3 outburst of its own over the next 5:31 to trim Anderson’s advantage to just four with just more than two minutes on the clock. Hash and Gleaton combined to notch the final four points of the half, with the Trojans holding a 42-34 lead at the break.
Gleaton scored four of AU’s first nine points coming out of the break, as the Trojans claimed a 51-38 lead with 17:27 remaining in the game. Anderson maintained the double-digit edge, and led 70-59 on Hash’s sixth trey of the afternoon at the 8:45 mark. Twelve seconds later, Coker’s Felder triggered an 8-0 surge by the Cobras and trimmed AU’s lead to three. Gleaton answered with three straight for the Trojans to rebuild the advantage to 73-67 with less than six minutes left.
But Felder’s one-of-two from the line with 3:31 showing gave the Cobras their first lead of the game. The visitor’s advantage was brief, however, as the contest featured two ties and four lead changes inside the final three minutes.
With Anderson leading, 77-76, Marshall connected on his lone 3-pointer of the afternoon from the left side with less than 40 ticks on the clock to give the Cobras a lead they would not relinquish. The Trojans, who entered the game leading the league in free throw accuracy, misfired on seven-of-eight from the line inside the final 23 seconds.
Gleaton’s free throw with 13 seconds on the clock pulled Anderson within 79-78, but Coker’s James Brown answered with two on the other end of the court. The Cobras added another free throw moments later and Gleaton’s long trey pulled the Trojans within 82-81, but Felder hit one-of-two from the line with 1.9 remaining to set the final score, as Gleaton’s desperation heave at the buzzer fell short.
Anderson will get back on the hardwood with a brief one-game road swing by visiting Mars Hill on Wednesday in the first meeting this season between the two squads. Tipoff versus the Lions is scheduled for 8 p.m.