|Pittman's 35 Points Sinks Seahawks|
HUNTINGTON, West Virginia – Senior forward Elijah Pittman keyed a suffocating 16-2 run to end the first half and exploded for a career-high 35 points as Marshall sped past UNCW, 96-78, in a Saturday matinee at the Cam Henderson Center.
The Herd improved to 3-2 with the high-scoring win in the second game of the Roundball Classic exempt event after suffering back-to-back overtime losses. The Seahawks lost their second in a row and wrapped up a road-heavy early part of the schedule with a 3-4 mark.
Pittman scored in a variety of ways and led all scorers in the contest with his 35 points, including 22 in the first period. The Covington, Ky., product wound up hitting 13-of-21 field goals, including 8-of-13 from long distance, and added a free throw and seven rebounds to his full stat line. Freshman point guard Kareem Canty added 19 points, Chris Thomas scored 15 and Ryan Taylor contributed 11 for the Herd, which shot 59 percent on the day.
JunIor guard Addison Spruill paced the Seahawks with 19 points, while junior forward Cedrick Williams collected 18 and seven rebounds, junior guard Freddie Jackson scored 11 and Ben Eblen chipped in 10.
“He (Elijah Pitman) is talented and was certainly the difference today,” said fourth-year UNCW Head Coach Buzz Peterson. “We had no answer for him. To win, we had to play more zone because they’re so athletic. They let us back in the game, but Pittman hit so many big shots.”
Pittman’s 35 markers fell just shy of the highest total by a UNCW opponent in a single game. James Madison’s Abdullah Jalloh poured in 37 against the Seahawks in a 99-85 win for the Dukes at Trask Coliseum on Feb. 9, 2008.
With the slippery Pittman torching the nets in the first half, the Herd raced out to a 48-29 cushion and led by as many as 21 points in the final stanza. The hot-shooting hosts shot 59 percent from the floor in the contest and made 11-of-19 from long distance.
Marshall led by 20 points two minutes into the second half, but the Seahawks used an 11-2 spurt to crawl back into the game. Spruill did most of the damage, scoring nine of the points, and the former Pender High School guard’s spin move at 15:57 pulled the Seahawks within 54-43.
But the Herd answered with buckets by Pittman and Canty to jumpstart a 16-6 run and the margin swelled back to 70-49. A three-ball by Pittman with 11:08 remaining staked the Herd to its largest lead of the game.
It was all Pittman in the opening 20 minutes as the 6-9 senior drained four of his first five three-point field goal attempts to get the Herd off to a strong start.
With the Herd clinging to a 17-16 lead after Jackson slipped inside for a layup at 12:27, TyQuane Goard scored on a bank shot from the free throw line and Pittman sank a three-ball to increase the margin to 22-16 at 11:29.
Pittman later connected on another trifecta with just over four minutes remaining to give the Herd a 35-27 cushion to start the critical run to end the half. Pittman had eight points in the spurt and Thomas added four points as the Herd scored 16 of the last 18 points in the period.
The Seahawks shot 48.5 percent, but struggled from deep, going without a three-pointer in eight tries. It marked the first time since Nov. 26, 2011, that the Seahawks failed to have a three-point field goal, dating back to a 70-67 loss to Davidson.
After a trying early part of the schedule, the Seahawks return to the coast to play two straight and five of their next six outings. NAIA member Campbellsville and former UNCW standout Keith Adkins visit Trask Coliseum Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tilt.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks finished winless in the four-day, two-game road trip to Kentucky and West Virginia…Pittman’s 22 points at intermission was also one point off the record by an opponent in a half…UNCW had just nine turnovers in the game…The Seahawks never led in the contest…Eblen paced the team with four assists…It was a season-high in treys for Pittman…Spruill reached double figures in scoring for the fifth time in seven games…Sophomore guard Craig Ponder scored 26 points in last season’s loss in Huntington, but had just one field goal on Saturday…The Herd now leads the all-time series, 3-2…The Seahawks are 1-2 now in the Cam Henderson Center…Marshall had six dunks in the matchup.