CofC Come Up Short At Home, Lose 72-70 To UNCW

Charleston Shoot Just 34% Overall As Seahawks Keep Cougars In Check

By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer

The University of North Carolina Wilmington men's basketball team came into Saturday's contest against the College of Charleston with the one of the worst records in the CAA. However, UNCW were fresh off their first win in the conference, downing a strong Northeastern 76-74 in overtime on January 18th. The Seahawks must have bottled that energy as they left Charleston with a 72-70 win over the Cougars, leaving 4900 stunned fans at TD Arena.

Charleston head coach Earl Grant gave UNCW their respect. "They were very confident. They made the plays they needed to make to win the game.(Interim Head) Coach (Rob) Burke had them ready to play. I thought them changing the defenses gave us a surprise. Obviously, we still had 70 points. We were doing a good job of adjusting and attacking it. We talked about trying to attack in the paint more."

Although Grant Riller lead CofC with 16 points, UNCW was able to keep him from driving to the basket, forcing the Cougars to go deep often, a stat coach Grant noted. "33 attempts is a lot for us from three." Although many of the stats favored Charleston, it was the foul line where Wilmington did most of their damage, making good on 22 of 33 attempts. "They attempted that many free throws. We tried to keep them out of the paint. They did a good job of penetrating."

Coming in hot from long range, Brevin Galloway finished with 12 points making good on just 2 of 10 from beyond the arc for the Cougars. Jaylen McManus and DeAngelo Epps chipped in 10 each for CofC. It was a career best for Epps, who admitted without a 'w' it's still a loss. "It's great to think about individual performance, but at the end of the day we didn't get the win."

The contest was close throughout with 11 lead changes and five ties. UNCW would go up by four (9-5) after a layup by Majae Todd. Past the midway point a slam dunk by CofC's Sam Miller put the home team up 20-19 with less than nine minutes to play before intermission.

The Cougars would find some offense over the closing minutes in the first half, with a lay up by Osinachi Smart giving the Cougs a 36-28 advantage at the 1:50 mark. A 4-0 run by the Seahawks would send them into the locker room trailing 36-32 at the break.

Two minutes into the second half a layup by Riller put CofC up again by eight. Less than two minutes later a pair of free throws by Wilmington's Ty Gadsden would knot the game at 42 apiece. Gadsden would do damage to the Cougars again at the 14:20 mark, when he chalked up a rare four point play, giving the visitors a 49-44 lead.

A 6-0 run capped off by a jumper by Jaylen McManus gave the Cougars fans hope, but it was a dog-fight for the remainder, with UNCW up 61-57 with 4:54 left on the clock. Three out of four from the foul line from Galloway put CofC up 64-61 with 2:41 showing on the clock. The Seahawks would rally with six unanswered points.

Forced to foul, Gadsden secured the victory for UNCW connecting 5 of 6 from the line. A 3-pointer by Riller was too little, too late as UNCW improve to 2-7 in the CAA and 7-15 on the season. Shykeim Phillips registered a game-high 17 points for the Seahawks, while Gadsden had 16 and Jaylen Sims 13 for UNCW.

Where the Cougars failed on Saturday afternoon was from the floor. CofC shot just 34.7% from the field, making just 6 of 33 (18%) from long range. Riller summed up the lack of offense. "We missed most of our shots tonight. I think we had our worse shooting performance for the year. It was kind of bad to have it on this day, but we have to move forward."

With the loss Charleston fall to 12-9 overall and 6-3 in the conference. Charleston, which remains in a three-way tie for second in the league standings, will regroup before hitting the road this week for a two-game trip that kicks off against James Madison (8-12, 1-8 CAA) on Thursday, Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. (ET) in Harrisonburg, Va. The game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.

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