|Williams, Spruill Lift Seahawks In OT|
CHARLESTON, South Carolina – Junior guard Addison Spruill swished a three-pointer with five seconds left to send the game into overtime and then banked in another triple with 25 seconds left in the extra period to put UNCW ahead for good in a wild 80-78 overtime victory over host Charleston Southern Wednesday night at the Buc Dome.
After a pair of lopsided losses to Iowa and Iowa State last week, the Seahawks bounced back in a big way, holding high-scoring CSU 34 points below its scoring average before a sellout crowd in the home opener for the Bucs.
It was the fourth straight overtime game between the two teams and sixth sudden death contest in nine pairings.
“I give our kids a lot of credit for not giving up,” said Buzz Peterson, UNCW’s fourth-year head coach. “It was a hard-fought game. This is a big for us tonight against a very good Charleston Southern team.”
UNCW stands 1-2 heading into its first home game on Saturday against NCAA Division II Wingate at 7 p.m. Charleston Southern embarks on a long trip to New Mexico and Baylor, starting with the Aggies on Sunday in Albuquerque.
Junior forward Cedrick Williams had a monster game for the Seahawks, pouring in a career high 26 points and grabbing eight rebounds, with several of his buckets coming down the stretch while in deep foul trouble. Senior guard Chris Dixon was the only other player in double figures with 10 points.
Junior guard Matt Kennedy anchored four players in double figures for the Buccaneers with 19 points. Senior forward Will Saunders came off the bench to score 18 points and Arion Harper and crafty point guard Saah Nimley chipped in 13 and 10.
The Seahawks devised a perfect game plan to curb CSU, which entered the game averaging 112.5 ppg. The Buccaneers had scored 130 and 95 points in their first two outings against Johnson and Delaware, but never could get untracked against the Seahawks and were denied their first 3-0 start since the 1991-92 campaign.
CSU appeared in control late in the game, leading by 13 points, 53-40, with 10:35 remaining when Saunders drained a three-ball from the left corner.
But the Seahawks answered with six straight points and crept within one point, 65-64, on Ben Eblen’s free throw with 1:23 left in regulation. After Kennedy sank a pair of free throws with 56 seconds on the clock, Spruill canned his first trifecta to silence the crowd and vault the game into sudden death.
In overtime, Wililams scored first for the Seahawks with two free throws, but Kennedy strung together five points and gave the Bucs a 72-69 advantage on a three-pointer with 3:55 left in OT.
CSU maintained its three-point advantage until senior guard Tanner Milson converted a three-pointer with 1:46 on the clock to give the Seahawks a 76-75 edge. Saunders responded, however, with a long ball of his own to put CSU ahead, 78-76, setting up Spruill’s heroics with 24 seconds left. A Dixon free throw with three seconds left then extended the lead to 80-78 and Cedric Bowen’s long attempt at the buzzer went astray.
UNCW scored eight of the first 11 points in the contest to get off to a good start. A soft jumper by Williams with 16:56 left in the first period gave the Seahawks an early 8-3 lead.
The Buccaneers roared back with a string of 10 unanswered points behind Harper, who had a triple and a layup in the spurt. Harper’s gliding layup at the 14:59 mark gave the Bucs a 13-8 edge.
After Willams and Shane Reybold converted baskets for UNCW, no more than two points separated the two teams the remainder of the first period. Williams picked up his second personal foul with just over nine minutes left in the first half and wound up playing just eight minutes in the opening period.
GAME NOTES: Nimley, CSU’s leading scorer, was held scoreless in the first half after missing five fields goals and wound up just 3-of-12 on the night…The Seahawks had only nine turnovers and forced 19 miscues…CSU launched 33 three-point attempts…Reybold had four blocks for the Seahawks…The Seahawks went 14-of-18 at the free throw line…Each team had 17 offensive rebounds…Eblen played a team-high 34 minutes before his home crowd…The Seahawks snapped a two-game losing streak to CSU…UNCW had five more field goals than CSU…Eblen dished out eight assists for the Seahawks.