UNCW Collars Bulldogs In Season Opener
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Sophomore forward Cedrick Williams scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to power UNCW past visiting UNC Asheville, 67-59, in the men's basketball season opener for the Seahawks Sunday at Trask Coliseum. It was UNCW's 11th straight victory over UNCA.
The Seahawks, who opened at home for the first time in four seasons, take the road for their next three contests, beginning Tuesday with a 7 p.m. test at former Colonial Athletic Association rival Richmond. The Bulldogs now stand 1-1 after opening the campaign with a win over Western Carolina Friday night.
Williams, out of Murfreesboro, Tenn., led three Seahawks in double figures with his total. Senior forward Keith Rendleman added 14 points and nine rebounds and newcomer Tyree Graham chipped in 12 points off the bench. For Williams, it was his first career double-double.
Senior forward Jeremy Atkinson poured in a game-high 17 points for the Bulldogs, who shot just 34.5 percent from the field, including 2-for-17 from behind the 3-point line. D.J. Cunningham and Trent Meyer both collected 11 points for Asheville.
In a back and forth home opener for the Seahawks, no more than six points separated the two teams and the contest still hung in the balance until sparks began to fly with 2:24 remaining.
With the Seahawks ahead, 56-55, Rendleman was fouled on a field goal attempt and Cunningham was tagged with a technical foul after the play. Rendleman made both of his free throws to push the lead to 58-48 and Tanner Milson sank both of the technical free throws to extend the margin to 60-55.
On the ensuing possession, the Bulldogs missed an attempt and Graham tacked on a three-pointer on the other end of the court to give the Seahawks a 63-55 cushion with 1:40 on the clock. UNCA could get no closer than six points the rest of the way.
After battling to a 27-all draw in the first 20 minutes, UNCW used a thunderous dunk by Williams and a bank shot in the paint by Luke Hager to build a 36-31 lead at 15:16. But Rendleman picked up his fourth personal four at 13:05 and Atkinson drained a long three in front of the UNCA bench to tie the game at 37-all with 12:46 remaining.
UNCA used a seven-point outburst to get the score back to 50-45, but Williams scored a bucket inside and added both ends of a bonus situation to slice the lead back to 50-49 with just under six minutes showing. The two teams traded buckets before the Seahawks broke away late.
Both teams came out frosty in the early going, combining for 8-of-24 shooting, before the Seahawks inched out to a 13-8 margin. Williams followed up his own shot in the lane with 10:21 to go in the first period to give the Seahawks an early advantage.
UNCA rallied to grab the lead, however, with a 10-2 spurt over the next four minutes. Cunningham did most of the damage, scoring six points in the run, and a floater in the lane by reserve forward Will Weeks gave the Bulldogs an 18-15 edge with 6:35 remaining in the first period.
UNCW still trailed by six points with 2:39 left in the first half until back-to-back triples by Dylan Sherwood and Graham and another baseline jumper by Sherwood pulled the Seahawks even at the break.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks shot 39.0 percent from the field and 71.4 percent at the free throw line...It was Buzz Peterson's first season-opening win in three tries at UNCW...The two teams combined for 43 turnovers...Rendleman fouled out with 48 seconds remaining...UNCW pushed its series advantage to 15-8 over UNCA...Buzz Peterson is now 9-6 lifetime in season openers...The Seahawks stand 114-78 against the Big South Conference...Tyree Graham, Luke Hager and Chris Dixon each made their debuts at Trask Coliseum