|Sherwood Tames Tigers With Bombs, 66-53|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Reserve sophomore forward Dylan Sherwood came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points to lift UNCW past second-place Towson, 66-53,in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game Monday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks halted a 14-game losing streak and improved to 7-19 overall and 1-10 in the CAA. The Tigers had a four-game winning string snapped and now stand 16-9 and 7-3.
Sherwood, who had scored 10 points in his previous seven games and had just one three-pointer on the season, went 5-of-8 from the floor, including 4-of-7 from deep, for a spectacular night. Senior guard Chris Dixon shared scoring honors with 14 points and junior guard Freddie Jackson contributed 11 points for back-to-back double digit performances.
Reigning CAA Player-of-the-Year Jerrelle Benimon paced the Tigers with 17 points and 16 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season, keeping him tied for the nation’s high. Senior forward Marcus Damas chipped in 11 points and 10 boards and sophomore forward Timajh Parker-Rivera grabbed 10 boards to give Towson three players with more than 10 rebounds.
“I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know when,” said a relieved Buzz Peterson, UNCW’s fourth-year coach. The veteran coach employed a five-on, five-off substitution pattern that kept his team fresh and puzzled the Tigers. “I’m happy for these young men who stuck together. They fought through these tough times.
“One of the keys was our defense. It was pretty solid tonight. I’m extremely happy for the guys. I told them not to be satisfied with just this one. This can be like an avalanche. We can keep it rolling.”
The Seahawks, who had not won since Dec. 3, made timely shots and took care of the ball to stun the Tigers after several closes losses in recent games. UNCW committed just one turnover on the night – with five minutes left in the first half – to break the school record of two miscues set on Feb. 23 of last year in a one-point home loss to Delaware.
UNCW, led by Sherwood, was dialed in from long distance, going 7-of-18 for a season-high in triples. The Seahawks had made six treys on five occasions this year.
After leading 30-25 at intermission, UNCW outscored Towson, 11-4, over the first 3:30 of the second half by converting 4-of-6 field goal attempts and playing inspired basketball. On top by six points, the Seahawks strung together six more points for a 39-27 cushion on a reverse layup by Shane Reybold with 17:26 remaining.
The Seahawks maintained the margin until just less than 10 minutes to go when Towson made a run. Benimon made three free throws and Damas had a layup as the Tigers closed to 49-42 at the eight-minute mark.
But Sherwood, a redshirt second-year man from Pittsford, N.Y., answered the spurt with a three-ball from the left corner and Craig Ponder raced down for a transition layup to get the lead back to double digits, 54-42, with 6:15 left.
Towson could never get closer than 10 points the rest of the way as UNCW used a string of eight straight points in the final two minutes to seal their fourth home win of the campaign.
UNCW took advantage of Towson’s poor start to build a 12-6 lead over the first seven minutes of the contest. After Damas connected on a turnaround jumper to give the Tigers a 6-3 edge, their last lead of the game, the Seahawks reeled off nine straight points to go ahead, 12-6, with 13:41 left in the first period.
Towson chipped away at the lead and got the deficit under 10 points with 12:18 left when Benimon made the second of two free throws, slicing the margin to 46-37.
The Tigers narrowed the early deficit to 17-14 on Parker-Rivera’s putback, but Jackson tossed in a free throw and Addison Spruill swished a triple from the right corner to push the margin back to 21-14 at 7:48.
UNCW then took a 30-25 lead into the break on a last-second layup by Jackson after holding the Tigers to 35.5 percent shooting and just 1-of-11 behind the arc.
“Give credit to Buzz and his staff,” said third-year Towson Head Coach Pat Skerry. “They’re capable of winning other games. For us, it was very, very disappointing. We continue at times to experiment with our identity and our identity is when you have 55 shots not to take 20 three’s. That’s not who we are. We got burned and we got what we deserved.”
The Seahawks conclude three games in five days on Wednesday when Northeastern visits Trask Coliseum for a 7 p.m. tip-off. Towson visits William and Mary on Saturday in a 4 p.m. game at Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg.
GAME NOTES: The two teams combined for just six turnovers in the first half, five for Towson and one for UNCW…Towson built a 50-31 advantage on the glass…UNCW went 15-of-32 at the free throw line…Junior forward Cedrick Williams, UNCW’s leading scorer and rebounder, finished with a season-low two points and four rebounds…Ten players played at least 10 minutes for UNCW…Towson grabbed 17 offensive rebounds…UNCW had 13 assists on 22 baskets…The Tigers were ice cold from behind the arc, going 3-of-20…Towson did not have a steal in the game…The Seahawks held the Tigers to 34.5 percent shooting…There were 41 personal fouls called…Towson scored 30 of its 53 points in the paint…The Tigers only had three assists on 19 buckets.