WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Junior point guard Kelva Atkins exploded for a career-high 28 points and UNCW held off a last-minute comeback by Northern Kentucky for a 65-62 women’s basketball victory Saturday at Trask Coliseum.

The Seahawks improved to 1-2 on the season with the non-conference win following a pair of losses to No. 6 Notre Dame and Elon. The Norse suffered their first loss of the year and own a 2-1 mark after wins over Cincinnati and Illinois State.

Atkins, a waterbug from Stem, N.C., went 9-of-17 from the floor, was perfect on eight attempts at the free throw line, dished out four assists and had three steals in an all-around effort. Freshman guard Brie Mobley chipped in 13 points and newcomer Ryan Flowers grabbed 13 rebounds for the Seahawks.

Junior forward Melody Doss paved the way for NKU with 24 points and sophomore guard Rianna Gayheart contributed 16 points.

UNCW looked in good position to nail down its first win of the season with 3:23 remaining when rookie Johanna McMillan rattled in a three-pointer from the right wing to give the Seahawks a 59-47 advantage.

But NKU whittled away and chopped the lead to 61-59 on a driving layup by Gayheart with 1:20 left to play. Atkins then sank a stepback jumper near the free throw line with 8.6 seconds on the clock to get the margin back to four points before Gayheart banked in an off balance three-pointer from the right side to narrow the deficit to 63-62 with nine ticks left.

Freshman guard Lauren White then fouled Atkins with eight seconds remaining and the third-year player dropped in both free throws to extend the margin back to 65-62. With the clock winding down, Gayheart’s game-tying trey at the buzzer bounced off the rim, giving Adell Harris and her young team a dramatic win before 441 fans in an afternoon matinee.

In a back-and-forth first half that witnessed eight lead changes, UNCW raced out to an early 9-4 lead, but NKU answered with 10 of the next 14 points to take its first lead of the game, 14-13. 

The two teams traded baskets over the next six minutes before back-to-back three-pointers by Mobley and freshman Naqaiyyah Teague sparked a 10-4 spurt that lasted into the first minute of the second half to give the Seahawks a 30-25 advantage.

The Norse battled back once again and a pair of free throws from sophomore Christine Roush keyed a 10-4 spurt that to give NKU a 36-34 edge with 13:47 remaining.

A layup and three-pointer from Atkins on back-to-back possessions, however, stalled the Norse comeback and sparked a 9-1 run for a 45-37 UNCW edge.

Doss then drained a three-pointer to key a 7-2 spurt that pulled NKU within three points, 47-44, only to see Atkins kickstart a 10-3 stretch that delivered the largest lead of the afternoon for the Seahawks, 59-47, with 3:23 on the clock.

UNCW wound up shooting 40.7 percent on the day and overcame 25 turnovers with a commanding 44-27 advantage on the glass. NKU shot 39.3 percent from the floor, but struggled at the charity stripe, converting just 12-of-22 free throw.

The Seahawks return to action Nov. 19 when they travel to Campbell for an 11:45 a.m. start. NKU is back on the court Nov. 20 with a 5:15 p.m. tip at Youngstown State.

GAME NOTES:

 

  • UNCW evened the all-time series with Northern Kentucky at 1-1 as it avenged a 71-55 loss to the Norse last December in Highland Heights, Ky.
  • The Seahawks shot above 40 percent from the floor for the second straight contest as it was 22-of-54 (.407) from the field against the Norse. The Seahawks improved to 6-6 under Harris when shooting 40 percent or better from the floor in a game.
  • The two teams combined for 39 turnovers (UNCW 25, NKU 14) as the Norse held a 20-9 edge in points off turnovers.
  • The Seahawks enjoyed a 21-7 advantage in second-chance points, including a 13-5 margin in the second half as it pulled down 15 offensive rebounds in the contest.
  • UNCW held a 44-27 advantage on the glass, its largest positive rebounding margin in a game since holding a 41-24 rebounding edge in a 90-63 victory over North Carolina A&T Jan. 2, 2012.
  • UNCW improved to 71-8 since the start of the 2007-08 season when it holds a lead of 10 points or more in a contest. The Seahawks held a double-digit lead in a game for the first time this season.
  • Despite playing just seven players, UNCW’s bench out-scored the NKU reserves by a 14-4 margin.
  • The Seahawks were 14-of-16 (.875) from the free throw line for the game despite not attempting their first free throw until the 16:18 mark of the second half.
  • Freshman Brie Mobley reached double figures in points for the third straight contest. She is the first Seahawk freshman to score in double figures in each of the first three games of her career since former standout Brittany Blackwell accomplished the feat in 2007-08.
  • Junior Kelva Atkins reached double figures in points for the third time this season and the 19th time in her career. She has reached double figures in 11 of the last 12 games dating back to the end of last season.
  • Junior Kelva Atkins established a new career-high in points, breaking her old mark of 24 set against George Mason on March 14, 2013.The contest also marked Atkins’ third game of 20 or more point in her career.
  • Atkins matched her career high in rebounds for the second straight contest and the third time in her career as she grabbed eight boards against the Norse. 
  • Atkins played all 40 minutes for the second time this season and the fifth time in her career.
  • Freshman Ryan Flowers pulled down double-digit rebounds for the first time in her career as she finished with 13 caroms.