BOSTON -Senior guard Tawanna Lee poured in a career-high 23 points and dished out seven assists to lead UNCW to a 68-64 victory over Northeastern in Colonial Athletic Association women's basketball action Saturday at Solomon Court.
Playing their final game of the regular season, the Seahawks improved to 4-25 overall and 3-15 in the CAA as they halted a five-game losing skid. The Huskies moved to 17-12 and 10-8 with the setback.
Lee highlighted a UNCW lineup that shot 43.8 percent (21-of-48) from the floor, including 12-of-29 (.412) from downtown as it established a new program mark for made 3-pointers in a contest. Junior Jessica Freeman scored 18 points while sophomore Kelva Atkins chipped in 14, all of which came in the second half.
Senior Deanna Kerkhof scored 18 points for Northeastern, who combined to shoot just 8-of-25 (.320) from the floor in the second half after converting 17-of-28 (.607) attempts from the field in the opening frame. Senior Kashaia Cannon and sophomore Amencie Mercier joined Kerkhof in double figures with in 12 points apiece while junior Jewel Tunstull pitched in nine points to go along with eight rebounds.
Northeastern jumped out to an early 12-3 advantage, knocking down six of its first seven attempts from the floor on its way to building the quick nine-point advantage.
UNCW would trim the Huskies advantage to six, 22-16, midway through the opening frame when a layup by Mercier at the 8:40 mark would ignite a 10-2 spurt that gave Northeastern their largest lead of the game, 32-18.
The two teams would trade baskets over the next five minutes until a 3-pointer by freshman Dana Brown with 12 seconds remaining in the first half ignited an 18-3 spurt that lasted just under six minutes and put the Seahawks in front for the first time on the afternoon, 50-44.
A 3-pointer by Mercier would stem the Seahawks tide momentarily as UNCW responded with a 9-3 spurt to take its largest lead of the game, 59-50.
Northeastern remained close; scoring nine of the next 13 points to trim the Seahawks advantage to four, 63-59, with 26 seconds remaining.
Lee and Atkins would stretch the Seahawks lead back to eight, knocking down four straight free throws on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 67-59 with 13 ticks on the clock.
The Huskies would make one last push, using a layup by Mercier and a 3-pointer by Kerkhof to pull within three, 67-64, with just over one second remaining. The Seahawks would inbound the ball to Freeman, who would make one of two free throw attempts to determine the final four-point margin.
Both teams return to action in the 2013 CAA Women's Basketball Championship, presented by Jani King. The Seahawks are the No. 9 seed and will open the tournament in the first round with a Noon contest against No. 8 George Mason on March 14. No. 4 seed Northeastern begins its tournament March 15 in the quarterfinals against No. 5 seed Hofstra at 2:30 p.m.
UNCW regained the all-time lead in the series
with the Huskies as it holds a 7-6 edge in the 13 meetings between the two
programs. The Seahawks improved to 4-2 in six contests versus the Huskies at
Saturday's contest was originally scheduled for
Feb. 10, but was postponed to Saturday due to Winter Storm Nemo.
The Seahawks' 12 3-pointers against the Huskies
established a new program mark for made 3-pointers in a contest. The previous
mark was 11, set on four previous occasions, most recently at William &
Mary on Feb. 19, 2012.
UNCW shot above 40 percent from the floor for
the ninth time this season and improved 4-5 this season when doing so.
The Seahawks shot better than 70 percent from
the free-throw line for the 10th time this season and the first time in four
games as it was 14-of-18 (.778) at the charity stripe. Northeastern also shot
better than 70 percent from the charity stripe as it was 7-of-9 (.778) from the
UNCW was out-rebounded for the 22nd time this
season as Northeastern held a 30-28 advantage on the glass. The Seahawks picked
up their first win of the season under such circumstances as they moved to 1-21
when grabbing fewer rebounds than their opponent.
The Seahawks dished out double-digit assists for
the 20th time this season as they finished with 15 assists. UNCW has recorded
double-digit assists in each of the last three games.
UNCW posted double-digit steals for the sixth
time this season as it finished with 10 thefts in the contest. It marked the
first time in nine games that the Seahawks finished with double-digit steals
(12 vs. Hofstra on Feb. 5)
Northeastern held a 34-16 advantage in points in
the paint, highlighted by a 26-10 edge in the first half.
The two teams combined for 39 turnovers (UNCW
20; Northeastern 19) and 44 points off turnovers ( Northeastern 24; UNCW 20).
The Seahawks committed 20 or more turnovers for
the eighth time this season.