|Dragons Burn Seahawks With Late Flurry|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Senior playmaker Frantz Massenat poured in a career-high 30 points and reserve guard Freddie Wilson scored all 16 of his season-high points in the second half to spark Drexel to a 79-63 come-from-behind victory over host UNCW in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball matinee Saturday at Trask Coliseum.
The Dragons picked up their first CAA road win to move to 10-7 overall and 2-2 in the league. The Seahawks, who scored a season-low 23 points in the second half, lost their ninth in a row to spiral to 6-14 overall and 0-4 in the CAA.
“That was probably the worst second half we’ve had this season,” said fourth-year UNCW head coach Buzz Peterson. “We knew they were going to make a run at us. The first four minutes of the second half were so important and we needed to take care of the basketball. We ended up turning the ball over the first two times. When give them a chance to get going, you’re going to make it difficult on yourself.
“We had no answer for (Frantz) Massenat, he’s just a tremendous player. We tried everything and when he didn’t score, he made some nice passes in the second half. We threw about everything we had at them.”
Massenat led all scorers by netting 19 of his career high in the second half as Drexel rallied from a 40-27 deficit for their fourth straight win over UNCW. The Ewing, N.J., product finished connecting on 8-of-11 from the field and 14-of-18 at the time to join Marshall’s Elijah Pittman as the only players to break the 30-point plateau against the Seahawks this season.
Wilson, a junior transfer from Seton Hall, had not scratched in his previous two games and had just three points in the last five outings before Saturday’s outburst. He wound up hitting 6-of-9 field goals, including several key buckets as the Dragons rallied after the break.
Graduate guard Chris Fouch, the CAA’s third leading scorer at 18.4 ppg., finished with 14 points and scored nine during Drexel’s impressive comeback in the second half.
Redshirt guard Craig Ponder paced the Seahawks with a season-high 16 points, followed by senior guard Chris Dixon with 13 and junior forward Cedrick Williams with 11. Freshman forward Chuck Ogbodo contributed eight rebounds.
UNCW shot 59.3 percent in the first half to bolt out to a comfortable 40-27 lead at the break before Drexel staged its furious rally to stun the Seahawks. The Dragons scored the first nine points of the final period and kept up the pressure, sprinting past the Seahawks midway through the last half and pouring it on down the stretch.
Massenat and Fouch got the Dragons within striking distance early in the final half and Wilson pitched in The Seahawks, who committed turnovers on their first two possessions of the second half, did not score after the break until Chris Dixon’s jumper in the lane found the bottom of the net with 15:32 remaining.
The Dragons, meanwhile, scored 19 of the first 25 points of the second half to catch up with the Seahawks. Drexel pulled even at 46-all when Wilson scored on a spinning layup, was fouled by Ben Eblen and converted the ensuing free throw with 11:47 remaining in the contest.
Wilson then maintained the hot hand for Drexel and his wide-open triple on the right wing forged Bruiser Flint’s team ahead, 56-52, with just under eight minutes remaining.
The Seahawks made a free throw to cut the deficit to one point, but Massenat sank a pair of free throws and Wilson canned a three-pointer from the right corner with 6:15 to play as Drexel broke away for a 61-53 advantage.
The Dragons built on that confidence the rest of the way and registered their largest lead of the game with 55 seconds to go on Mohamed Bah’s monster dunk that brought the Drexel bench to its feet.
UNCW played most of the first half without Williams, its leading scorer and rebounder. The junior forward picked up his second personal foul just 4:46 into the game and sat the remainder of the period.
The Seahawks trailed early, 8-3, before reeling off seven consecutive points, capped by Tanner Milson’s triple at 15:39 to reverse the deficit into a 10-8 edge.
Dixon then extended the margin to 20-13 on a free throw and the Seahawks used 9-2 spurt to gain more separation as Dylan Sherwood converted a layup with 6:19 left for a 29-18 bulge.
The Seahawks closed out the half with another big rally and Ponder’s athletic tip-in with 2:14 remaining increased the margin to 37-23, their largest lead of the period, before carrying a 40-29 lead into intermission.
UNCW wound up shooting 59.3 percent in the opening period on 16-of-27 shooting, while holding Fouch to five points on 1-of-5 from the field.
UNCW travels to the College of Charleston on Wednesday to battle the Cougars in a mid-week game at TD Arena. Drexel opens a two-game homestand on Saturday by entertaining Delaware’s Blue Hens at 7 p.m.
GAME NOTES: The Dragons were playing without injured starter Tavon Allen…The Seahawks lead the all-time series, 12-10…UNCW shot 59.3 percent in the first half and 28.0 points in the second period…Massenat played all 40 minutes…The Dragons shot 47.6 percent in the first half and 66.7 percent in the final period…Drexel outscored UNCW, 52-23, in the second half…Reserve forward Dylan Sherwood scored all five of his five points in the first period…The Seahawks had 10 turnovers…Each team had six steals…Drexel won its second straight game at Trask Coliseum…The Seahawks play the Dragons again on Feb. 3 in Philadelphia.