|Pride Storms Back For 61-52 Triumph|
HEMPSTEAD, New York – Hofstra rallied from 14 points down at halftime to keep UNCW winless in the Colonial Athletic Association with a 61-52 victory over the Seahawks in men’s basketball action Saturday at the Mack Sports Complex on Long Island.
The Pride snapped a five-game losing streak to improve to 8-17 overall and 4-6 in the CAA. UNCW plummeted to 6-19 and 0-10 and remained in the league’s cellar.
Hofstra graduate guard and leading point producer Zeke Upshaw topped all scorers in the contest with 16 points for his 15th consecutive game in double figures. Sophomore forward Jordan Allen added 15 points and nine boards and graduate guard Dion Nesmith finished with 13 points, four rebounds, five rebounds, five assists and four steals in an all-around game.
Junior guard Freddie Jackson was the lone Seahawk in double digits and matched his season-high with 15 points. It marked the second game this season UNCW had just one player reach double figures in scoring.
“It was a game of two halves,” said Buzz Peterson, UNCW’s fourth-year head coach. “They just got into us more in the second half and when they came at us, we were on our heels.
“We told them at halftime that the score was 0-0 and we play to win. We didn’t stay focused and they took the lead away from us. We looked very timid down the stretch. We tried to encourage them as a much as we could, but it’s just very frustrating.”
On Military Appreciation Night with camouflage T-shirts plentiful, the Seahawks got off to a torrid start, shooting 65.2 percent in the opening period, before watching the Pride storm back and outscore UNCW, 40-17, after intermission for the stunning comeback.
UNCW started slowly in the second half, but appeared to have righted the ship when junior forward Cedrick Williams scored on a slam dunk with 14:21 remaining to give the Seahawks a 41-26 advantage. It was his only basket of the second half and he finished with a season-low four points for just his fourth game of the season under double digits.
But reserve forward Stephen Nwaukoni converted a conventional three-point play to kickstart a 16-3 run that included Hofstra’s first lead of the game with 5:59 left on Allen’s driving layup. Allen was huge in HU’s second half, scoring 14 of his 15 points after the break.
Hofstra pushed its lead to four points, 50-46, on an Allen free throw at 3:46 before UNCW senior forward Shane Reybold answered with a layup 32 seconds later to narrow the gap to 50-48.
The Pride closed out the game in a flourish and outscored the Seahawks, 11-4, over the remaining 3:14 to sweep the regular season series following a 69-64 verdict back on Jan. 15 in Wilmington.
Cold shooting contributed to UNCW’s collapse in the second half. The Seahawks made just 5-of-20 field goals for 25 percent in the final period, their worst shooting percent in the final period since a 23.9 aim in the season opener at Iowa on Nov. 8.
UNCW dominated the first half with balanced scoring and unselfish play and shot 65.2 percent in the opening 20 minutes on 15-of-23 field goals. With Milson and Dixon each collecting four assists, the Seahawks had 10 assists on 15 baskets in the first period.
Graduate guard Ben Eblen gave the Seahawks a lift early, scoring five of the team’s first eight points as UNCW jumped on top quickly. Eblen’s spin move in traffic with just over 15 minutes remaining helped UNCW take an 8-4 edge.
The Seahawks maintained the four-point lead until the midway point in the period when Milson entered the game and made his presence known. Milson drained back-to-back triples as part of a 10-3 spurt and the Seahawks increased their margin to 25-14 with 8:44 remaining in the half.
UNCW registered its largest lead of the first stanza with 47 seconds remaining when Chris Dixon banged in a jumper from the left elbow and the Seahawks took a 35-21advantage into the break.
The Seahawks return home to open a two-game homestand on Monday with a 7 p.m. test against Towson. The game was rescheduled following a winter storm that postponed the original Jan. 26 date.
GAME NOTES: UNCW led at halftime for only the fifth time this season…UNCW had 14 assists on 20 field goals…Hofstra grabbed 10 steals…The Seahawks were outscored at the free throw line, 18-8…The Pride won the battle of the boards, 32-25…Williams and Reybold did not have an offensive rebound…UNCW’s bench outscored its counterparts, 29-7…The Seahawks went 4-of-13 from deep and the Pride was 3-of-13…Milson and Dixon each had five assists…Hofstra now leads the all-time series, 15-14…The Pride is 8-5 against the Seahawks at the Mack Sports Complex…The game began a stretch of three games in five days for UNCW.