WILMINGTON, North Carolina - UNCW used a suffocating 17-0 run over a seven-minute span of the second half to make new head coach Adell Harris a winner in her home debut in a 59-45 women's basketball victory over state foe N. C. Central Wednesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks, back on the court following a 10-day hiatus, now stand 1-3 in 2012-13 after dropping their first three outings on the road. The Eagles remain winless at 0-7 on the new season, including 0-5 on the road.
Sophomore transfer Kelva Atkins anchored three players in double figures for the Seahawks with a career-high 15 points in her first home game. Junior guard Jessica Freeman collected 13 points and senior forward Karneshia Garrett had 11 points and matched her career-high with 18 rebounds.
Senior guard Chasidy Williams paced NCCU with 15 points and backcourt mate Amber Neely had 11 for the Eagles, who shot just 30 percent from the floor.
UNCW built a comfortable working margin early and watched the Eagles narrow the deficit to two points in the second half before regaining control. The Seahawks ended up shooting a season-best 46.3 percent from the floor.
Trailing 32-26 at the break, NCCU scored six of the first eight points of the second half to tighten the game. Freshman guard Aja Hoyle sank a long three-ball in front of the NCCU bench to bring the Eagles within 34-32 with 14:51 remaining in the game.
But the Seahawks, keyed by Freeman's long range shooting, reeled off 17 unanswered points to halt the rally. A layup underneath by Jovana Mandic - her first bucket of the game - started the spurt and Atkins raced down court for a layup with 8:57 left to give the Seahawks their largest lead of the game, 51-32.
UNCW led from start to finish in its 10th meeting with the Eagles and held NCCU scoreless for the first 5:25 before freshman forward Kaylah Blount scored on a putback underneath.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, built a big cushion and bolted out to a 15-3 margin on Chelsea McGowen's short jumper along the right baseline at 12:44. NCCU, on the other hand, opened the contest cold, connecting on just one of its first eight field goal attempts.
A four-point flurry by Neely helped bring the Eagles to within, 17-11, with 8:40 to play before the Seahawks stretched out the lead again. Neely drained a triple from the top of the key and added a pair of free throws to slice the advantage to six points.
Garrett later converted a conventional three-point play with 2:57 to go in the period to increase the lead back to 30-18 at 2:57 before Williams drove the left side of the lane to close the gap to 32-26 at halftime by canning a layup with 24 seconds on the clock.
The Seahawks play three of their next four games on the road, beginning Sunday with a 3 p.m. tip-off at Tulane. UNCW's next home game is Wednesday, Dec. 5, against UNC Charlotte at 5 p.m. in a doubleheader with the Seahawk men's team.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks improved to 32-8 in home openers through the years...UNCW won its ninth consecutive home opener...UNCW entered the game shooting 33.3 percent but shot 46.3 percent...UNCW improved to 53-0 since the start of the 2002-03 season when holding its opponent to less than 50 points ... It was the first time the Seahawks have held an opponent to under 50 points since a 76-47 victory at Towson on Feb. 24, 2011 ... UNCW starter Jessica Freeman picked up her third personal foul with 6:54 left in the first half...The Seahawks scored 34 of their 59 points in the paint...NCCU missed 12 straight field goal attempts during UNCW's decisive 17-0 run...Senior guard Tawanna Lee led the Seahawks with five assists...The Seahawks went just 4-for-18 from deep...NCCU outscored UNCW at the free throw line, 12-5...UNCW had 15 fast break points in the contest.
0 - Tawanna Lee
Led team in assists for the first time this
season and the 12th time in her career.
1 - Jovana Mandic
Established new career high with four blocked
shots. Doubled previous career high of two, set at VCU on Jan. 8, 2012.
3 - Kelva Atkins
Reached double figures in points for the second
time this season.
Established a new season high in points,
breaking previous mark of 13, set at Wake Forest on Nov. 14.
Led team in scoring for the second time this season.
24 - Jessica Freeman
Reached double figures in points for the first
time this season and the 22nd time in her career.
40 - Karneshia Garrett
Reached double figures in rebounds for the third
time this season and the 10th time in her career.
Reached double figures in points for the second
time this season and the 17th time in her career.
Led team in rebounding for the third time this
season and the 21st time in her career.
Posted her second double-double of the season
and the eighth of her career.
Matched her career high with 18 rebounds, set
against Wake Forest on Nov. 14.