Courtesy: Chris Crouch Donte Morales converts a rare four-point play in the first half against the Panthers.
By Samuel T.O. Branch, Athletic Communications Post-Graduate Assistant
WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Senior forward Eric Buckner tallied a game-high 17 points and Georgia State used a 15-0 first half run to separate from UNCW and earn a 68-53 victory in Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball action Wednesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The win gave the Panthers a season sweep of the Seahawks and boosted GSU to 15-8 overall and 7-5 in conference action. UNCW dropped its fourth consecutive contest and fell to 8-14 on the year and 4-8 in CAA play.
Buckner scored 16 of his total in the second half and was also GSU's top rebounder with nine boards, including six offensive rebounds. Senior guard Jihad Ali scored 16 points for the Panthers, while sophomore guard Rashaad Richardson added 10 markers.
Sophomore forward Donte Morales paced the Seahawks for the second straight game, collecting 14 points. Junior forward Keith Rendleman notched his 13th double double of the campaign with 12 points and 13 boards.
After both teams started 4-of-14 from the field and with the score tied at 11-all and 8:28 remaining in the first half, Ali completed a lay-in to spark the 15-0 run. Richardson capped the spurt with a trey at the 4:32 mark, giving the Panthers a 26-11 advantage.
The run was part of an extended 25-6 stretch spanning 11:26 as Georgia State capitalized on UNCW scoring droughts of 5:22 and 6:56. The Seahawks shot just 7-of-24 (29.2 percent) from the floor in the frame.
After the Panther run, UNCW notched six quick points, concluded by a fast break lay-in from freshman guard Freddie Jackson at 2:27 to cut the advantage to 26-17.
Ali finished off the half by stealing a Jackson pass and laying it in on the break with one second remaining to send GSU into halftime up, 28-17. Rendleman and freshman guard Adam Smith were both held scoreless in the opening period.
After the teams traded baskets to begin the second half, Buckner nailed a jumper with 16:05 to play to hand the Panthers a 13-point advantage, 37-24, and spark a 17-7 run that would extend GSU's lead to 21 points, 52-31. Ali capped the run with two free throws at the 10:00 mark.
GSU won for the seventh time in nine games against UNCW. The Panthers took over the lead in the all-time series, 9-8.
UNCW concludes a two-game homestand Saturday at 7 p.m. against William & Mary in the annual Homecoming game. GSU travels to Hofstra for a matinee against the Pride at 4 p.m.
GAME NOTES: UNCW has only three home games remaining ... Both squads struggled from the charity stripe, with the Seahawks shooting 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) and the Panthers making 8-of-21 (38.1 percent) ... UNCW Head Coach Buzz Peterson was issued his fourth technical of the season and his second against GSU with 11:34 remaining in the contest ... Both teams shot over 50 percent in the second half, as UNCW shot 16-of-31 for 51.6 percent and GSU made 16-of-30 for 53.3 percent ... The game was the first in February for both clubs...It was GSU coach Ron Hunter's first appearance at Trask Coliseum...Buzz Peterson used his 13 different lineup of the season and the ninth different lineup in as many games...UNCW has held in the 50's for the third consecutive game.