DAVIDSON, North Carolina - Davidson built a working margin in the first half and used a balanced scoring attack with four players in double figures to hold off UNCW, 77-61, in men's basketball Saturday at John M. Belk Arena.
Davidson improved to 6-4 this season, while UNCW dropped its second straight road outing and fell to 4-6. UNCW remained winless away from home in six tries this season and lost its 12th consecutive road game spanning over to a 68-66 decision at William & Mary on Jan. 21, 2012.
"They can score in so many different ways," third-year UNCW coach Buzz Peterson said of the Wildcats. "They're an experienced team and they take advantage of your mistakes. They will go to the NCAA Tournament."
The Wildcats turned to Jake Cohen and the 6-10 senior center from Berwyn, Pa., answered the bell most of the night, scoring a game-high 21 points on 5-of-8 from the floor and a perfect 8-of-8 at the charity stripe. Junior forward De'Mon Brooks and junior guard Chris Czerapowicz added 14 points apiece and junior forward Clint Mann had 13 for the Wildcats, who shot 49.1 percent from the floor.
Senior forward Keith Rendleman paced two Seahawks in double digits with 20 points and added nine rebounds. Tanner Milson chipped in 10 points - all in the second half.
Making its first visit to the Charlotte area since 1995, the Seahawks shot a season-best 47.4 percent and committed a season-low nine turnovers, but didn't have an answer to Davidson's patterned offense.
Veteran coach Bob McKillop's club grabbed a 35-23 lead at halftime and extended the margin to 37-26 early in the second period before the Seahawks rallied. UNCW scored 11 of the next 14 points behind Rendleman and Milson to close the gap to three points.
Milson hit a floater on the right baseline to cap an 8-0 run and cut the deficit to 37-34 with 16:30 remaining. After Tyler Kalinoski swishes a three-pointer for his only bucket of the game, Milson drained a triple and Davidson led, 40-37, at the first media timeout of the second half.
But the Wildcats responded with an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to increase the margin back to 51-39 and the Seahawks never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Davidson's largest lead came with 59 seconds left in the contest when Nik Cochran made a layup in another 8-0 mini-run.
Davidson came out ice cold from the field and missed its first eight shots. Rendleman scored on a tip dunk with 14:10 left in the opening period to give UNCW a 7-5 edge, its last lead of the contest.
The Wildcats took the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Mann at 13:26 and the junior from Overland Park, Kan., scored nine straight Davidson points to push the advantage to 25-17 with 5:24 left in the first half. Czerapowicz tacked on two treys and a layup by Brooks with 35 seconds left gave Davidson its largest lead of the half, 35-21.
UNCW redshirt freshman Craig Ponder made a driving layup with two ticks on the clock to slice the deficit to 35-23 at intermission.
Rendleman, playing in front of a large contingent of famly and friends, "had one of his better games of the year," said Peterson. The Iron Station, N.C., product played 36 minutes and scored on a variety of moves around the paint for his third 20-point of the campaign.
UNCW returns to the court on Wednesday (Dec. 19) when UNCG visits Trask Coliseum for the final game before the Christmas holiday break. Davidson travels to CAA member Drexel on Dec. 22 for an 8 p.m. tip at the Daskalakis Center.
GAME NOTES: UNCW still owns a 5-3 advantage in the eight-game series with Davidson...The Seahawks stand 14-19 in non-conference games in Buzz Peterson's three seasons...The Seahawks are 4-15 on the road against non-conference clubs under Peterson...Davidson won its third straight over UNCW...Peterson now stands 5-8 against Davidson in his 15-year career...The contest was the first of two straight games for UNCW against Southern Conference foes..Davidson has six more three-point field goals than UNCW...Davidson on the rebounding battle, 38-27...UNCW shot 51.5 percent after intermission...Charlotte native Alex Kilmartin made his first career appearance for the Seahawks...UNCW went 4-of-10 at the free throw line.