CCU women's team off to best start

At 8-1, Coastal Carolina's women's basketball team is off to the best start in program history.

Coastal’s women’s team off to best start in program history
By Ian Livingston Brooking
 
Following a record-breaking win over Division III Wesleyan last week, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleer women’s basketball team improved to 8-1 on the year. That record is the best start to a season in program history.
 
“We have incredible chemistry along our team and it’s evident on and off the court,” head coach Jaida Williams said. “Not only that, we have an incredible group of seniors that are not only talented but are motivated, driven and want to have an incredible senior campaign.”
 
The Chanticleers opened the 2019-2020 season with a 4-0 record before falling to Richmond 79-67 on Nov. 29.
 
“There was so much growth in that game,” Williams said. “I don’t question why things happen, but I believe that everything does happen for a reason. There were many lessons learned that night and when our team came out against George Mason two days after that Richmond game, you knew that this team wasn’t going to let another loss happen.”
 
The Chants certainly rebounded from the loss to Richmond, breaking out to a 23-6 lead at the end of the first quarter en route to a 74-59 win on Dec. 1.
 
As Williams mentioned, it is apparent that this year’s group of Chanticleers is led by their senior class.
 
One of those seniors is DJ Williams, who currently leads the team and the Sun Belt in steals (32) and steals per game (3.56). Williams is ranked 10th in the nation for steals and 14th in the nation for steals per game. 
 
“If you look back at our wins and that one loss, it goes back to defense and DJ is a huge part in that,” the coach said. “I believe that this group of seniors has bought into the idea of if we want to be successful consistently we have to defend consistently.”
 
The Chanticleers' defense has gotten the job done, holding teams to 55.1 points per game. 
 
Their offense hasn’t been too bad either. The team is averaging 78.2 points per game and the 23.1 margin of victory is good enough for 19th in the nation. That’s ahead of top tier teams such as No. 2 UConn, No. 7 Louisville, No. 9 North Carolina State, No. 19 Michigan State, No. 22 West Virginia and No. 23 Tennessee. 
 
That statistic was helped with a 100-point victory over Wesleyan College on Dec. 12. The Chants had seven players in double figures in what was the most points scored by Coastal’s women’s team in program history. 
 
Despite playing only 15 minutes, senior forward Naheria Hamilton said it was great to see her teammates like Bailey Lewis and Alana Denson, who typically don’t get a lot of playing time, shine on the court.
 
“I was so excited for my teammates, especially Bailey,” Hamilton said. “Seeing her go from practice to game and doing everything she was taught is amazing to me.”
 
“The game plan, no matter the opponent, is to play Coastal Carolina basketball,” Jaida Williams said. “Typically when you have these kinds of games, especially during finals week, you find student-athletes that are not as focused. I’m proud that our student-athletes kept that focus.”
 
Wesleyan College, the opponent in that 100-point win, used the game versus Coastal as an exhibition. Going into the game, Wesleyan was 0-10 and had a winless streak of 35 games. 
 
The Chants now turn their focus to their final non-conference games of the year. Up first, Elon in the Philanthropist.com Carolinas Challenge on Thursday. 
 
The Elon game will be played at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
 
The Chanticleers will wrap up their non-conference play on Dec. 29 at home versus South Carolina State.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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