Coastal Carolina loses third starter

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A promising season for Coastal Carolina has suddenly turned into a struggle with the team losing two starters in just two days.

The Chanticleers announced Thursday that leading scorer Desmond Holloway was indefinitely suspended from the team for an eligibility issue, just two days after the team's nation-leading 22-game winning streak was snapped in a 59-57 home loss to Gardner-Webb, the eighth-place team in the Big South Conference.

During that game, starting point guard Kierre Greenwood tore a ligament in his left knee and will be out the rest of the season.

Holloway is averaging 18.5 points and 6.9 rebounds a game, while Greenwood leads the team with four assists a game and before Thursday night's game against North Carolina Central was the only player to start every game for the past two seasons.

Combine those two losses with having starting forward Mike Holmes kicked off the team and losing reserve guard Willie Kirkland to academic issues and Coastal Carolina is left with just seven scholarship players and a walk-on.

"I really believe in our team, and I trust our team. I wish we were full strength, but that's just not the case," Chanticleers coach Cliff Ellis said Wednesday after Greenwood's injury was announced.

This season was on the verge of becoming historic before this week for Coastal Carolina. The team is just five wins away from setting a school record for victories and is just one win away from setting the conference record for victories in a season.

There was some good news for the Chanticleers this week. A Liberty loss to VMI clinched the top seed in the Big South tournament, meaning Coastal Carolina will host its games.

The Chanticleers are trying to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1993 and become the fourth team Ellis has lead to the NCAAs in his career.