CONWAY, SC – Junior center Essam Mostafa scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, but his effort was not quite enough as Coastal Carolina gave up a go-ahead bucket in the last minute and fell to UNC Wilmington, 60-58, in a non-conference game Wednesday evening at the HTC Center. UNCW didn’t lead by more than four points the entire game, but Shekeim Phillips’ foul line jumper was the difference, as it put the Seahawks up by two. Neither team scored in the final 60 seconds.
Coastal had two chances to regain the lead but came up empty. First, sophomore guard Josh Uduje missed an open three-pointer, and then Coastal got a final chance by grabbing a defensive rebound with :08 left and headed swiftly up the court. But the Chanticleers could only muster a Desperation toss from the right corner that was blocked.
It was the fifth double-double for the 6’11” Mostafa on the season, who was helped by Uduje’s 16 points, the most he has scored in a four-game stretch as Coastal slipped to 3-3 for the season.
Junior guard Jamahri Harvey had 12 points on four second-half three-pointers to lead UNCW, which improved to 6-3 with its fifth consecutive win. Phillips missed his first seven field goal attempts on the night but came through with what proved to be the game-winner.
“We had great numbers at the end there, and they are taught to take it to the hoop,” explained Coastal head Coach Cliff Ellis. “We didn’t get a good look, and that one’s on me. I thought our defense played great in holding them to 60 points, but we turned the ball over too much and made just 2-of-13 three-pointers. Essam Mostafa played Possessed Tonight and they kept us in the game. And I thought Josh Uduje played well. But the rest of the team struggled.”
In a rugged first half, neither team held more than a four-point advantage, with six ties and five lead changes. UNCW led early, 11-7 before Uduje keyed Coastal on an 8-0 run to grab a momentary 15-11 advantage. Uduje had five of his nine first-half points in the run before the Seahawks scored the next five points and the teams traded baskets over the last eight minutes, leading to a low-scoring 23-23 tie at the half.
Coastal started the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 32-25 lead. They led by eight at 44-36, after Mostafa converted a three-point play with an inside bucket and a free throw. It was still a seven-point advantage before the Seahawks battled back with an 8-0 run for a 51-50 lead with 5:30 remaining. The teams stayed locked within a point of each other until Phillips hit his only field goal of the game at a time when it mattered the most.
Neither team shot better than 40 percent from the field, but UNCW had 12 three-pointers compared to just two for the Chanticleers. Coastal outrebounded the Seahawks, 37-34, but got just five assists on its 17 field goals and suffered 17 costly turnovers.
Coastal now hits the road for a couple of in-state away games. CCU will play at Winthrop at 2 pm ET Saturday and at Wofford at 7 pm ET next Tuesday. The Chants will return home Saturday, Dec. 10, to face the Regent at 7 pm ET and then welcome the College of Charleston at 7:30 pm. ET is Monday, Dec. 19.
For complete coverage of CCU men’s basketball, follow the Chants on social media @CoastalMBB (Twitter), facebook.com/CCUChanticleers (Facebook), @GoCCUSports (Instagram) or visit the official home of Coastal Carolina Athletics at goccusports.com.