Heading into Friday night’s championship game of “The Basketball Classic”, Coastal Carolina was concerned about the size of its opponent, Fresno State. As it turned out, the greater fear was the Bulldogs outside shooting. Fresno State connected on 12 three-pointers, 10 in the first half, to defeat the Chanticleers 85-74 at the HTC Center in Conway. The win gave Fresno State its second national postseason tournament title (1983 NIT), while denying CCU of its first. Coastal finished the season 19-14, while losing in a title game for the second straight season. A year ago, CCU fell to Pepperdine 84-61 in the CBI championship.
Fresno State (23-13) set the tone from the beginning as Destin Whitaker hit a three-pointer to cap the Bulldogs’ 13-1 start forcing CCU to burn an early timeout in hopes of stemming the tide. The shot was one of a team-high six made threes by Whitaker who came into the game having converted just 18 threes through the Bulldogs first 35 games. Coastal found enough momentum for an 8-0 run to close the gap to 15-12 before the Bulldogs put together a string of three-pointers to build a 47-29 advantage at the break.
Orlando Robinson led the Bulldogs in scoring as the 7-footer tallied 20 points and 14 rebounds. It was the 41st game out of his last 44 in which the NBA prospect had produced double-figures in a Fresno State uniform. For his efforts, he was named the tournament’s “Most Valuable Player”. CCU players Rudi Williams, Vince Cole, and Ebrima Dibba were named to the All-tournament team.
With the Bulldogs seemingly in control, Coastal got the home fans excited with a late 13-4 run to close within 77-70 with just over two minutes remaining. However, the Chanticleers could get no closer as Fresno State held off the late comeback attempt by hitting 8-of-9 free throws down the stretch.
CCU MBB Coach Cliff Ellis — Postgame Comments