COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It took the entire 40 minutes, a career-high effort from senior Jud Dillard, and a couple of defensive rebounds in the final minute to propel Tennessee Tech to an exciting, 71-69 victory over Coastal Carolina Thursday night in Eblen Center.
Tech (2-0) got 34 points and 12 rebounds from Dillard, and withstood a parade to the free throw line by the Chanticleers (1-2), who outscored the Golden Eagles 29-15 at the charity stripe.
Defense ruled from both sides from the opening tipoff, and the contest turned into a battle of wills. Tech yielded a seven-point lead with 7:38 remaining (57-50) and trailed by four with 3:01 to play (66-62) following a 16-5 CCU run.
The Golden Eagles finally forged a decisive lead with 1:18 remaining on a driving layup by Jeremiah Samarrippas and half-minute later a Dillard layup made it a three-point edge, 70-67 with 34 seconds left.
Dillard added one free throw with eight seconds to play to make it 71-67, before Kierre Greenwood scored a layup for Coastal with one second left for the final margin.
Dillard scored seven of Tech's final nine points, first trimming Coastal's lead to two with 2:34 left , and one with 1:47 remaining.
Overall, the score was tied seven times in the contest and the lead changed hands nine times.
In addition to Dillard, Tech got double-digit scoring from freshman Lanerryl Johnson with 10 points. Samarrippas finished with eight points and six assists.
Anthony Raffa paced Coastal Carolina with 25 points, including 5-for-10 from long range and 8-for-10 at the free throw line. Greenwood added 19 points, including an 11-for-12 effort at the line.
It was at the free throw line where Coastal Carolina earned its first-half lead, taking a 35-30 edge into the dressing room after outscoring Tech 15-5 at the charity stripe.
The score was tied five times in the first half and the lead swapped benches six times. Tech's largest lead in the first 20 minutes was two points, 20-18.
Coastal was on top by five a three times, including at the intermission. The Chants also led 13-8 and 18-13 with 12:39 remaining. Both times Tech fought back with a 5-0 run to knot the contest.
The Golden Eagles will play at East Tennessee State Saturday at 3 p.m. CST.