Seahawks Extinguish Flames, 77-68
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
LYNCHBURG, Virginia - Too much Keith Rendleman helped keep Buzz Peterson perfect against Liberty as UNCW doused the Flames, 77-68, in a non-conference men's basketball game Tuesday night at the Vines Center.
Rendleman poured in a career-high 29 points and added 11 rebounds for UNCW, which won its second straight to move to 2-5 on the season heading into a much-deserved 11-day break. It was Peterson's sixth straight win against LU without a loss.
The Flames, 2-8 overall, got 19 points and 13 rebounds from senior workhorse Jesse Sanders, but couldn't handle Rendleman, who connected on a variety of jumpers, dunks and free throws to propel the Seahawks to their highest output of the season.
Only five points separated the Seahawks and Flames after the first half and Peterson's club went to Rendleman often after the break to lead by as many as 15 points in the final period.
"Keith had a tremendous game tonight," said Peterson. "Our kids did a great job of getting him the basketball. I also thought Donte Morales did a good job defensively on Sanders in the second half. It wasn't pretty, It was pretty ugly, but we'll take it."
Despite being erratic from the floor, shooting 40 percent in the first half, the Seahawks still led, 36-31, behind Rendleman's 13 points and 11 markers from Adam Smith. The Flames rallied to trim the lead to two points early in the second half before the Seahawks responded to close the game out.
Smith's fourth three-pointer of the game increased UNCW's lead to 41-34, but Sanders converted a spinning layup to narrow the gap to 41-39 at the 16-minute mark. Liberty hung around throughout the second half until the Seahawks finally gained some separation with eight minutes to go with a 14-4 spurt.
The Seahawks led by five points, 55-50, when Rendleman started the decisive run with a pair of free throws. The margin swelled to 69-54 four minutes later on Trevor Deloach's free throw with 2:51 on the clock.
Things got a little anxious for the Seahawks in the final two minutes as the Flames made one last gasp at closing the deficit, but the lead was too much to overcome for the Big South Conference club.
In the first half, the Seahawks overcame 40 percent shooting, including just 3-of-16 behind the arc, to carry a 36-31 edge into the break.
After David Minaya's layup gave Liberty an early 9-5 lead with 17:16 on the clock, the Seahawks regained the advantage for good on Smith's second trey at 15:25. Smith had 11 points in the first period for the Seahawks and finished with 18 points for his seventh straight double figure game of the campaign.
The margin swelled to 24-16 on another triple from Smith with just under eight minutes left, but the Flames reeled off seven unanswered points. John Caleb Sanders made the first of two free throws as LU climbed within, 24-23, at 5:15.
The Seahawks responded, however, by scoring 10 of the next 12 points to registere their largest lead of the half, 36-27, on Rendleman's soft jumper from the free throw line with 1:02 left in the half. A baseline jumper by Antwan Burrus as time expired resulted in a 36-31 edge for the Seahawks at intermission.
UNCW breaks for exams and is idle until Dec. 17 when the Seahawks travel to Richmond for their CAA opener at VCU.
GAME NOTES: UNCW shot 55.6 percent in the second half to end up 46.3 percent for the game...The Seahawks were just 4-for-25 from long range...Donte Morales and Freddie Jackson each dished out six assists...The Seahawks built a 45-35 rebounding advantage...The Seahawks and Flames are scheduled to play two more times in the future...Buzz Peterson is now 8-11 against non-conference opponents in his two seasons with the Seahawks...The Seahawks are 58-37 against the Big South Conference in 95 contests...The Seahawks stand 165-177 against Virginia opposition through the years...The Seahawks used the same starting lineup for the third straight game...Keith Rendleman and Adam Smith are on the only players to start all seven games