By Ken Cross
Hassani Gravett scored on a layup off dribble penetration in the half court and converted a free throw with 6.5 seconds remaining as South Carolina shaded Coastal Carolina, 80-78, and won for the eighth time in ten tries this season.
Gravett made up for an errant throw out of bounds on the possession as he tried to find Justin Minaya on the perimeter for a potential jumper with 21 seconds left and the Gamecocks trailing 76-74.
“Good for him he made a shot that helped us win the game,” said South Carolina’s Frank Martin afterward, “We have got to figure out what to do to get him to be more consistent with his approach and his focus, but give hime credit. He made a mistake on that pass to Justin (Minaya).”
Gravett challenged Coastal big man Zac Cuthbertson at the rim and then lifted the ball around his outstretched arms for the game winning layup plus the foul. Gravett scored six of the Gamecocks final eight points after struggling from the field all afternoon.
— Gamecock MBB (@GamecockMBB) December 9, 2017
After the shot, he lost Coastal Carolina leading scorer Jaylen Shaw on the advancement of the basketball. Shaw pulled up and shot a potential game-winning three which lipped out of the rim as the horn sounded.
“I just seen a chance to win the game,” said Shaw, who finished with 17 points, six rebounds, and three assists, “My teammates my coaches want me to take that shot every time. I am wide open. I have to shoot that one.”
Frank Booker led South Carolina with 19 points in 34 minutes. He hit a key triple with 7:10 to go after Coastal had built a 71-66 lead. The scoring effort was the highest for the graduate student from Florida Atlantic this season as Booker seems to be turning into the team’s leader as his confidence seems to be at a high level.
“I feel like I am more comfortable” explained Booker of his carer high as a Gamecock, “I see things a little better. Coach Frank knows I can score the ball and the guys put me in position to make shots so if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t make the shots I made.”
The loss left the Chanticleers at 5-5 with three games remaining before they begin Sun Belt play on December 29 against Texas-Arlington. Coach Cliff Ellis was proud his team’s effort and the opportunity to start a series with South Carolina to spark a rivalry as the Chanticleers are now a BCS school.
“We had an opportunity to win and I cannot say enough about the effort of our team,” Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis explained, “This was a great great game. We had our chances. I have to give South Carolina the credit and I am very proud of our team. We felt like we should have won.”
Coastal Carolina’s Demario Beck led all scorers with 20 points while Chris Silva netted 15, 10-of-13 at the line, and Justin Minaya had 13.