Seahawks Subdue Panthers In Trask, 76-72
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Redshirt freshman Craig Ponder led five men in double figures with 17 points as UNCW knocked off Georgia State, 76-72, in a Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball game Wednesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks snapped a five-game losing streak to the Panthers to improve to 9-14 overall and 4-7 in the CAA. GSU entered the contest as one of the hottest teams in the CAA with six wins in the last seven outings, but fell prey to the hot-shooting Seahawks and dipped to 12-13 and 7-5.
Ponder went 6-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-5 from deep for his team-high total. Senior forward Keith Rendleman, a preseason First-Team All-CAA selection, recorded his 13th double-double of the season and 34th of his career with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore forward Cedrick Williams chipped in 14 points, junior guard Chris Dixon scored 12 and sophomore guard Freddie Jackson had 10.
Freshman guard R.J. Hunter, son of GSU head coach Ron Hunter, proved why he's a heavy favorite for CAA Rookie-of-the-Year honors. He led all scorers with 26 points, including 20 in an impressive opening half. Junior guard Devonta White collected 19 points and four assists and junior forward Manny Atkins scored 12 points for GSU, which dropped out of a tie for third place in the CAA.
"We beat a very good basketball team here tonight," said Buzz Peterson, UNCW's third-year head coach. "It was one of the most complete team games we've had all year. We shared the basketball very well.
"I was very pleased with the way our team stepped up. I'm very proud of the guys."
After jumping out to a 10-point lead at halftime, the Seahawks were still on top, 51-37, when the Panthers rallied. White steered GSU to an 11-2 run and the Panthers narrowed the deficit to 53-48 with 13:34 left on a runner by reserve Markus Crider.
Ponder responded with a big trey on the right side to push the margin back to 56-48 at 12:56 and Jackson added a three-pointer on the left side to bump the score to 59-48 with 12:23 remaining.
But the Panthers stormed back again and strung together eight points to closed the deficit to one possession, 68-66, on a trifecta by Atkins with 3:46 on the clock. Jackson and Ponder combined for two buckets to get the score back to 72-66 before Hunter scored on a tip-in with 1:26 showing.
Ponder and Williams hit big free throws - sinking both ends of two bonus situations - in the final 20 seconds to nail down the win. Ponder made his with 20 seconds left and Williams converted both tosses with 16 seconds to go to increase the margin to 76-72. Atkins then hit the back of the rim with a field goal attempt with eight seconds left.
UNCW shot a blistering 61.5 percent in the first half and survived an early onslaught by Hunter to grab a 42-32 lead at the break. Hunter went 7-of-11 from the floor and made all five of his three-point attempts en route to 20 points in the opening 20 minutes.
GSU jumped out to a quick 5-4 edge before the Seahawks scored 14 of the next 17 points to build an 18-8 advantage. Dixon capped the spurt with a three-pointer on the right side with 13:06 left in the first half.
The Panthers battled back to cut the deficit to three points, 18-15, and still trailed, 33-28, when UNCW closed out the first half with a 12-7 rally to go into intermission with a 10-point lead. UNCW wound up connecting on 16-of-26 field goals, including 5-of-8 behind the arc, to stun the Panthers.
The Seahawks close out their two-game homestand Saturday with a Noon tip-off against Hofstra in a televised contest at Trask Coliseum. The Panthers entertain Towson at 2 p.m. at the GSU Sports Arena in Atlanta.
GAME NOTES: It was GSU's final visit to Trask Coliseum as a CAA member...The Seahawks lead the all-time series, 11-8, including a 5-2 advantage in Wilmington...UNCW shot 52.9 percent from the field and drained 13-of-21 behind the arc...The Seahawks won the rebounding battle, 33-27...Rendleman and Williams had two blocks apiece...Four Seahawks had at least five rebounds...UNCW led by as many as 14 points in the first half...Only six players scored for GSU...The Seahawks finished with 11 turnovers...UNCW had seven blocks...The Seahawks scored more than 70 points against GSU for the first time in seven games...UNCW led for all but 2:24 of the contest.