Panthers Tag Seahawks With 75-61 Loss
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
ATLANTA, Georgia - Senior guard James Fields poured in 16 of his team-high 23 points in the second half to power Georgia State past visiting UNCW, 75-61, Thursday night in Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball at the GSU Sports Arena.
The Panthers won their third straight over the Seahawks and improved to 12-4 overall and 4-1 in the CAA with the victory. UNCW had its four-game winning streak snapped and stands 7-8 and 3-2 in the conference.
"We're not happy with the loss," UNCW second-year coach Buzz Peterson said, "but it's a long season and we've got to get back to work on Saturday night. They had a good environment here. I felt good at the half, but they took it to us in the second half and we broke down about halfway through the half."
Fields led a parade of Panthers in double figures on the night. He scored his total on 9-for-13 from the floor and added four assists in the loss. Senior guard Jihad Ali and freshman guard Devonta White chipped in 13 points apiece and senior forward Eric Buckner contributed 11 points and six rebounds.
Junior forward Keith Rendleman, the CAA's Player-of-the-Week, pumped in a game-high tying 23 points and added 13 rebounds for his eight double double of the season and the 14th of his career. He was the lone player in double digits for UNCW, which shot 38.2 percent from the floor.
A crowd of 2,698, the largest turnout of the season at the GSU Sports Arena, witnessed a game that was tight through the first 30 minutes before the Panthers broke away midway through the second half.
The Panthers shot just 38.7 percent in the opening period, but heated up after the break and converted 19-of-33 shots in the final 20 minutes for 57.6 percent to nail down their eighth win at home without a loss.
After the two clubs went back and forth early in the final period, freshman guard Freddie Jackson gave the Seahawks a 40-37 edge with a nifty layup at 14:25. Freshman guard KK Simmons later tied the score at 46-all before the Panthers gained some separation.
Fields keyed a 6-0 spurt with a pair of free throws with 10:13 left to play and a layup by Buckner increased the lead to 52-46 at 8:24. GSU registered its largest lead of the game, 73-55, with 1:14 left in the game on a jumper by Fields at the free throw line.
The Seahawks scored the first five points of the contest before GSU answered with a 13-0 run to take control early. Ali started the spurt with a jumper on the right wing and White's steal and layup at 13:51 staked the Panthers to a 13-5 margin.
But UNCW regrouped over the next eight minutes, outscoring GSU, 15-3, to build a four-point edge. Five different players contributed and Rendleman's conventional three-point play with just over eight minutes remaining lifted the Seahawks to a 20-16 advantage.
The Panthers could only manage three points during that 5:49 span on a layup by James Vincent and a free throw by White.
The two teams traded buckets over the final five minutes of the first half and a monster dunk by Eric Buckner with 27 seconds on the clock tied the score at 27-all at the break.
The Seahawks return to Trask Coliseum to kick off a two-game homestand on Saturday with a 7 p.m. tip-off against Drexel. The Panthers entertain Towson on Saturday in a 2 p.m. matchup.
GAME NOTES: UNCW won the rebounding battle, 40-32...The Seahawks coughed up 18 turnovers...The Panthers evened the series at 8-all since GSU joined the CAA in 2005-06...UNCW is now 3-6 on the road and 1-2 in CAA road tilts...GSU coach Ron Hunter coached barefooted to raise awareness for Samaritan's Feet, an organization that provides shoes for underprivileged children...UNCW is 267-222 lifetime in the CAA...UNCW starting backcourt KK Simmons and Adam Smith both reside near Atlanta...Sophomore guard Donte Morales missed the game with a bruised knee...UNCW fell for the fourth straight time at the GSU Sports Arena...It was the first meeting between UNCW's Buzz Peterson and GSU's Ron Hunter...GSU had just five miscues...The two teams meet again on Feb. 1 in Wilmington.