Panthers Race Past Seahawks In Atlanta
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
ATLANTA, Georgia - The UNCW men's basketball team got its first look at the leading candidate for Colonial Athletic Association Rookie-of-the-Year honors Wednesday night and found out why Georgia State newcomer R.J. Hunter is the clear frontrunner.
Hunter, son of GSU Head Coach Ron Hunter, poured in 14 of his 19 points in the second half to propel the Panthers past UNCW, 81-63, in a CAA men's basketball pairing at the GSU Sports Arena.
GSU, hosting UNCW for the final time as a member of the CAA in Atlanta, won its fourth straight game to improve to 10-11 overall and 5-3 in the league. UNCW had its two-game winning streak snapped and dipped to 7-11 and 2-4.
"We didn't take care of the basketball and that hurt us," said third-year UNCW Head Coach Buzz Peterson. "We had a couple guys in the starting lineup who weren't ready to play. The presented a matchup problem for us and we had to play a lot of small basketball tonight."
Hunter also collected six rebounds and six assists and shared team scoring honors with Virginia Tech transfer Manny Atkins, who scored 15 of his 19 points in the opening period. Junior playmaker Devonta White chipped in 17 points for GSU, which shot 50.9 percent on the night
Senior forward Keith Rendleman and junior guard Chris Dixon led the way for the Seahawks, combining for 43 of the team's 63 points. Rendleman scored 23 points and snared 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season and 32nd of his career. Dixon poured in 20 points and dished out four assists in 39 minutes on the floor.
It marked the first time two Seahawks scored 20 points since Chad Tomko (21) and Rendleman (20) accomplished the feat against Hofstra on Feb. 23, 2011.
In addition, the loss was UNCW's 10th on the road without a win this season and extended the team's losing streak to 16 games over the last two years.
The turnover bug returned for the Seahawks Wednesday night and GSU capitalized, scoring 30 points off 17 UNCW miscues. After building a 42-33 advantage at halftime, the Panthers held the Seahawks at bay throughout the second half, converting eight turnovers into 14 points down the stretch to curtail several comeback attempts.
Rendleman scored on a putback and added a free throw to bring the Seahawks within 46-40 with 17:07 remaining and the Seahawks still trailed by just 10 points midway through the period until GSU closed the door.
In front 65-55 after Rendleman scored on a jumper on the right elbow, GSU put the game away with a decisive 13-0 run kickstarted by the crafty Hunter. A conventional three-point play by White with 3:04 left in the contest gave the Panthers their largest lead of the game, 79-55.
GSU dialed long distance early, making six of its first 10 three-point field goal attempts, to build a 19-point lead midway through the first half before settling for a 42-33 margin at the break.
After Dixon drained his second triple to bring UNCW within 16-13 with 13:11 remaining, the Panthers used a 16-3 run to take control. White sank a pair of free throws to start the spurt and reserve guard David Travers fired in a three-ball from the top of the key at 6:57 to double up the Seahawks, 32-16.
Hunter then scored his first basket of the game with 6:12 left to give the Panthers their largest lead of the half, 35-19.
UNCW rallied over the final five minutes of the first half to cut into GSU's margin. Dixon scored seven points and Rendleman added five points and Shane Reybold's steal and two free throws with 1.1 seconds on the clock closed the gap to 42-33 at intermission.
The Seahawks conclude a two-game road trip Saturday by tackling Hofstra in a 2 p.m. contest at the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead, N.Y. The Panthers visit Philadelphia on Saturday to take on Drexel at Noon.
GAME NOTES: GSU now leads the series by a 10-8 margin, including 7-2 in Atlanta...The Panthers are 7-5 at home this season...The two teams combined for 17 treys...When Cedrick Williams failed to score, it marked the seventh time this season a starter has not scored for UNCW...GSU won the rebounding battle, 33-28....Redshirt freshman Luke Hager grabbed five rebounds....Rendleman added three blocks to his stat line...Dixon played more minutes (39) than any player on the night...It was the most points allowed by the Seahawks since the third game of the season, an 84-47 loss at Ohio...UNCW's three starting guards committed nine turnovers...The Seahawks went 13-of-20 at the free throw line...Four Seahawks had a triple in the contest...Freshman forward Markus Crider had 10 rebounds off the bench for the Panthers.