UNCW Rallies But Falls To Towson, 79-74
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Towson dominated play inside, racking up a whopping 46 points in the paint, to hand UNCW its fifth straight Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball opening loss, 79-74, Wednesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Tigers improved to 6-8 on the season and 1-0 in the CAA. The Seahawks dropped their second in a row and fourth in five games to fall to 5-8 and 0-1. It was the first home loss in six appearances for UNCW in 2012-13.
Junior forward Jerrelle Benimon, a transfer from Georgetown, paced three players in double figures for the Tigers with 18 points. Graduate student Bilal Dixon had 14 points and junior guard Mike Burwell contributed 13.
Senior forward Keith Rendleman registered his sixth double-double of the season and the 28th of his career with 14 points and a record-tying 21 rebounds for the Seahawks. Tyree Graham also poured in a career high 18 points and redshirt freshman guard Craig Ponder had a game-high 23.
Rendleman's 21 caroms represented the most since John Fields pulled down the same number vs. Towson on Jan. 30, 2010.
The Tigers shot 50 percent in the opening 20 minutes to build a 44-28 bulge at intermission and led by as many as 19 points early in the second half. UNCW made it interesting down the stretch and got the lead down to three points with 20 seconds left before the final verdict.
Towson was on top, 59-40, midway through the final stanza before the Seahawks finally cut into the margin. An 8-2 mini-run sliced the lead to 61-48 with 9:49 left to play, but the Tigers pushed the cushion back to 67-50 when a triple by Marcus Dumas bounced around the rim and dropped in at 5:43.
A conventional three-point play by local product Freddie Jackson, a baseline runner by Ponder and a bucket in the paint by Chris Dixon narrowed the deficit to 69-61 at 2:57. A trifecta by Graham in the right corner with 2:18 on the clock then made the score 71-65. After Kris Walden converted a free throw, Graham drained a high-arcing three-ball on the left wing to the Seahawks climbed within, 27-69, with just under a minute left.
Towson came out firing in the early going, making six of its first 10 field goal attempts, to grab a 12-4 lead. Marcus Dumas connected on a layup at 15:07 to give the Tigers an early eight-point advantage.
After UNCW chopped the deficit to four points, the Tigers reeled off eight more points to build a 20-8 cushion. Benimon swished a three-pointer in front of the UNCW bench as the Towson lead ballooned to 12 points at 11:36.
The Tigers posted their largest lead of the first half, 31-12, when Bilal Dixon capped an 11-0 spurt with a pair of free throws with 7:10 remaining in the opening period.
The Seahawks open a two-game conference road swing Saturday with a 1 p.m. contest at Northeastern. The Tigers entertain Drexel at 4 p.m. at the Towson Center.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks still lead the series by a 16-11 margin ... Towson won for the second time in three tries at Trask Coliseum ... The last Seahawk to pull down 20 rebounds was John Field with 21 against Towson on Jan. 30, 2010 ... Junior forward Shane Reybold sat out the game for the Seahawks with a lower leg injury ... Benimon (11 pts.) and Dixon (10 pts.) each reached double digits at halftime ... Second-year TU coach Pat Skerry is 2-0 against UNCW ... UNCW opened its CAA slate at home for the first time in three seasons.