Cavs stave-off UNCW in NCAA thriller, 76-71

Seahawks fail to reach second round in NCAA tournament for second-straight year.


Calvin Shomaker/The Seahawk

Sammy C. Hawk leads the charge as UNCW takes the floor vs. Virginia.

Calvin Shomaker, Copy Editor

ORLANDO, FLA. – UNC Wilmington’s historical season came to an end on Thursday as Virginia’s London Perrantes and Marial Shayok combined for 47 points and shot 17-of-28 from the floor to lead the No. 5 Cavaliers to a 76-71 victory over No. 12 UNCW in the NCAA Tournament’s opening round.

UNCW’s Denzel Ingram and Ambrose Mosely both hit three 3-pointers in the first half in a 22-6 point run to build a 15-point lead with less than eight minutes remaining til halftime. The Cavaliers countered, closing the first half on a 19-3 run and grabbing a one-point lead at the intermission 30-29.

Ingram, Mosely and Cacok were the only Seahawks to score in the first half, but senior Chris Flemmings made 7-of-11 second-half shots for a team-high 18 points that gave UNCW a chance down the stretch.

“I knew my shots would fall,” said Flemmings. “I just continued to stay aggressive. I saw opportunities to get into the lane a little bit more so I definitely tried to take advantage of them.”

With power forward Isaiah Wilkins battling sickness and UNCW playing a quick tempo, Virginia utilized a five-guard lineup in the second half. That helped the Cavaliers space the floor and create driving lanes for Perrantes, Shayok and guard Darius Thompson.

Perrantes, Shayok and Thompson repeatedly attacked the Seahawk defense. That lane penetration made it easy to draw fouls, score layups and find open teammates for 3-point opportunities. In the second half, the Cavs converted on 4-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc.

Shayok hit two big 3-pointers as Perrantes, who had a game-high 24 points, and Kyle Guy each hit one apiece in that stretch.

“I thought we made those guys adjust to us,” UNCW coach Kevin Keatts said. “I thought our offensive game plan was great. It was a great college basketball game, and I thought Virginia made a few more plays than us.”

UNCW took a 45-44 lead after a 3-pointer from Mosely with 13:00 left, but the Cavs responded with a 10-0 run and held the lead for the remainder of the game. UNCW wouldn’t quit – the Seahawks stayed within a possession or two of the Cavaliers for the final three minutes.

Solid free throw shooting and ball security were the difference makers for Virginia in the final minutes. Virginia connected on 17-of-25 compared to UNCW going 11-of-17. Those six missed free throws were the difference between going home or staying in Orlando.

UNCW’s leading scoring C.J. Bryce had a down game. The runner-up in CAA Player of the Year voting shot just 2-of-11 and scored just eight points.

“There’s not a team in the ACC that’s like that,” said Virginia coach Tony Bennett. “They’re quick. They’re small … Kevin does a great job. He’s built a really good program in his three years there.”

Notable: Backed by Shayok’s 23-point performance, the Virginia bench poured in 28 compared to UNCW’s 2 from Jordon Talley who shot 0-7 from the field.

Cacok converted on 5-of-6 attempts from the field Thursday, putting him at 80.0 percent for the season – an all-time NCAA record.

Quote of the Day: “I remember my freshman year it was like a miracle when we would win games,” said Chuck Ogbodo, the only player left over from the pre-Kevin Keatts era. “My sophomore year the program started turning around and then the guys coming in – the transfers, the freshman – they bought into what (Keatts) had for us, and the program started changing.”