|Upshaw Uprising Costs Seahawks, 69-64|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Zeke Upshaw failed to score in his last game against UNCW as a player at Illinois State. He made sure that wasn’t going to happen again.
Fast forward two years and the streak-shooting guard, now a graduate student at Hofstra, poured in 27 points to ignite the Pride past the Seahawks, 69-64, in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball clash Wednesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Pride won its second straight game and second in a row at Trask Coliseum to improve to 6-11 overall and 2-1 in the CAA. The Seahawks dropped their eighth consecutive game and freefalled to 6-13 and 0-4.
Upshaw, a 6-6 shooting specialist, paced the Pride with his 27 points, going an impressive 7-of-10 from three-point range and only 1-of-7 inside the arc. He tied Hofstra’s single game record for three-pointers and scored the most points by an opponent in Wilmington this season. Junior forward Moussa Kone added 10 points off the bench and sophomore guard Jordan Allen had 10 for the Pride.
Senior guard Chris Dixon led the Seahawks in scoring for the third straight game with 15 points. Junior forward Cedrick Williams chipped in 14 on 5-of-7 shooting and junior guard Addison Spruill collected 12 for Buzz Peterson’s club.
“I told our guys to keep digging and we’ll find a way to get better,” said Peterson, who is 2-5 lifetime against Hofstra. “I thought a key point was when we gave up two quick baskets just before the end of the first half. We made a nice run in the second half and shot better, but we still need to make some stops.”
In Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich’s first appearance at Trask Coliseum, the Pride rode the hot hand of the high-flying Upshaw to a four-point lead at intermission and held off the Seahawks down the stretch to win for the first time on the road this season.
Allen scored on a jumper and layup and reserve forward Stephen Nwaukoni converted a putback to stake Hofstra to its largest lead of the game, 45-35, with just over 16 minutes remaining before the Seahawks came alive.
UNCW used an 11-1 run to climb back into the game and Luke Hager’s triple from the top of the key with 11:45 left to play knotted the score at 46-all.
Hofstra then regained the lead and pushed its margin to 62-58 on an Upshaw free throw before Williams dropped in both ends of a one-and-one to slice the deficit to 62-60 with 2:55 remaining.
But Chris Jenkins sank a pair of free throws and Upshaw added a timely layup with 25 seconds left to seal the game as time ran out on the Seahawks, extending their losing streak to eight games.
Upshaw delivered early for the Pride, scoring nine of Hofstra’s first 11 points, including three consecutive triples to give the visitors an 11-10 edge at 14:57.
The two teams dialed long distance over the first 10 minutes of the contest, combining for 6-of-10 from long distance. Hofstra went 4-of-7 in the span and UNCW made 2-of-3 from deep.
Tanner Milson and Dixon answered with back-to-back three-pointers to help UNCW build a 22-17 advantage with just over 10 minutes left in the first half before the Pride regrouped to knot the score at 22-all on reserve forward Darren Payen’s floater in the lane at 9:14.
Spruill scored on a pair of baskets inside to give the Seahawks the lead again, 28-26, with 4:32 remaining, but the Pride closed out the final three minutes of the first period with a 9-3 spurt to grab a 35-31 lead at intermission behind Upshaw’s 13 points and 4-of-5 shooting behind the arc.
There were five ties and 11 lead changes in a see-saw first half and Upshaw’s three-ball with two seconds on the clock gave the Pride some breathing room going into the locker rooms.
The Seahawks entertain Drexel on Saturday in a 2 p.m. tip-off for their next contest, a 7 p.m. outing at TD Arena. The Pride travels to Dallas for a Sunday matchup at SMU.
GAME NOTES: Hofstra evened the all-time series at 14-all…Hofstra point guard Dion Nesmith fouled out with 4:34 left in the game…Upshaw went 7-of-10 from the deep and the rest of the Hofstra club went 2-of-10…The Pride won the battle of the boards, 34-30…Senior forward Stephen Nwaukoni pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds…UNCW shot 46.3 percent from the floor and Hofstra wound up at 46.0 percent…The Pride had seven steals…Hofstra has won three of the last four meetings…The two teams play again on Feb. 8 in Hempstead, N.Y.