HARTSVILLE, S.C. – With four players reaching double figures, the Anderson men’s basketball team bounced back from a road loss three nights ago to defeat Coker, 82-72, in South Atlantic Conference action Saturday afternoon at Timberlake-Lawton Gymnasium.
Anderson (19-7, 14-6 SAC) claimed its 10th win in the last 12 outings and maintained sole possession of third place in the league standings, one game behind Carson-Newman. Coker slipped to 13-11 overall and 10-10 in the conference, while having its win streak halted at two.
With the eight-team field set for next month’s Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament, both the Trojans and Cobras are battling for seeding in the event and momentum down the regular-season home stretch. Anderson wrapped up its two-game road swing by spoiling Senior Night for Coker with a win in what is scheduled to be the Cobras’ final regular-season game in historic Timberlake-Lawton Gymnasium.
“I am really proud of the team,” said Anderson head coach Jason Taylor. “Our effort tonight was outstanding. Our guys played very well. There is no one I respect more than [Coker] Coach Schmotzer and the job he has done here and I can’t even articulate how big a win this is.”
The Trojans won the battle of the boards, 44-32, marking the 12th time in their last 13 games that AU out-rebounded its opponent. Anderson also shot 52.8 percent (28-of-53) from the field – its second-highest accuracy of the season - while the Cobras shot 32.8 percent from the field. The Trojans committed a season-high 19 turnovers, but out-scored Coker 15-2 in second-chance points.
Senior guard Chandler Hash led all scorers with 22 points and was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line and handed out three assists. Fellow guard CJ Gleaton notched his seventh double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while senior Kyle Sledge tallied a season-high 12 points and collected eight rebounds. Junior guard Nick Jackson netted 11 points off the bench, with guard Myson Jones adding nine points and shared game-high honors with six assists. Redshirt freshman Lex Davis chipped in nine points in 17 minutes of action.
Senior guard Julian Nelson led the Cobras with 19 points, with Trey Marshall and Larry Felder each adding 14 points apiece.
The first half featured five ties and nine lead changes, with the Trojans pushing out to a 22-12 advantage with 12:37 left in the opening half. With Anderson still holding the double-digit lead two minutes later, the Cobras rallied on the strength of 13 unanswered points as part of a 17-2 run to take their largest lead of the contest, at 31-26, with less than six minutes left in the half.
The final four-plus minutes of the half saw six lead changes, with Coker taking a 39-36 lead to the locker room.
Anderson came out of the break with a 16-4 outburst to take a lead they would not relinquish, as Gleaton and Sledge fueled the run by combining for 10 of the Trojans’ points during the decisive surge.
Coker trimmed the AU lead to 60-55 with just more than 13 minutes left in the game, but the Cobras would get no closer, as Jackson sandwiched a layup and a 3-pointer around a Hash layup to boost the Trojans’ lead back to double digits (67-57) midway through the final half.
Anderson steadily built its largest lead of the contest, 78-64, on Hash’s second trey of the afternoon with 5:09 on the clock and held on down the stretch despite connecting on just 4-of-8 free throws inside the final four minutes of the contest.
Anderson wraps up its home schedule by playing host to Tusculum on Wednesday, as the Trojans will recognize CJ Gleaton, Chandler Hash, Will Keistler and Kyle Sledge for their contributions to the program. AU will be looking for a sweep of the season series after defeating TC, 80-73, earlier this season. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.