|Atkins Enjoys Career Day In 65-62 Win|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Junior point guard Kelva Atkins exploded for a career-high 28 points and UNCW held off a last-minute comeback by Northern Kentucky for a 65-62 women’s basketball victory Saturday at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks improved to 1-2 on the season with the non-conference win following a pair of losses to No. 6 Notre Dame and Elon. The Norse suffered their first loss of the year and own a 2-1 mark after wins over Cincinnati and Illinois State.
Atkins, a waterbug from Stem, N.C., went 9-of-17 from the floor, was perfect on eight attempts at the free throw line, dished out four assists and had three steals in an all-around effort. Freshman guard Brie Mobley chipped in 13 points and newcomer Ryan Flowers grabbed 13 rebounds for the Seahawks.
Junior forward Melody Doss paved the way for NKU with 24 points and sophomore guard Rianna Gayheart contributed 16 points.
UNCW looked in good position to nail down its first win of the season with 3:23 remaining when rookie Johanna McMillan rattled in a three-pointer from the right wing to give the Seahawks a 59-47 advantage.
But NKU whittled away and chopped the lead to 61-59 on a driving layup by Gayheart with 1:20 left to play. Atkins then sank a stepback jumper near the free throw line with 8.6 seconds on the clock to get the margin back to four points before Gayheart banked in an off balance three-pointer from the right side to narrow the deficit to 63-62 with nine ticks left.
Freshman guard Lauren White then fouled Atkins with eight seconds remaining and the third-year player dropped in both free throws to extend the margin back to 65-62. With the clock winding down, Gayheart’s game-tying trey at the buzzer bounced off the rim, giving Adell Harris and her young team a dramatic win before 441 fans in an afternoon matinee.
In a back-and-forth first half that witnessed eight lead changes, UNCW raced out to an early 9-4 lead, but NKU answered with 10 of the next 14 points to take its first lead of the game, 14-13.
The two teams traded baskets over the next six minutes before back-to-back three-pointers by Mobley and freshman Naqaiyyah Teague sparked a 10-4 spurt that lasted into the first minute of the second half to give the Seahawks a 30-25 advantage.
The Norse battled back once again and a pair of free throws from sophomore Christine Roush keyed a 10-4 spurt that to give NKU a 36-34 edge with 13:47 remaining.
A layup and three-pointer from Atkins on back-to-back possessions, however, stalled the Norse comeback and sparked a 9-1 run for a 45-37 UNCW edge.
Doss then drained a three-pointer to key a 7-2 spurt that pulled NKU within three points, 47-44, only to see Atkins kickstart a 10-3 stretch that delivered the largest lead of the afternoon for the Seahawks, 59-47, with 3:23 on the clock.
UNCW wound up shooting 40.7 percent on the day and overcame 25 turnovers with a commanding 44-27 advantage on the glass. NKU shot 39.3 percent from the floor, but struggled at the charity stripe, converting just 12-of-22 free throw.
The Seahawks return to action Nov. 19 when they travel to Campbell for an 11:45 a.m. start. NKU is back on the court Nov. 20 with a 5:15 p.m. tip at Youngstown State.