Seahawks move forward with first win

Gadsden: “Stops on defense made the open shots easier.”


Noah Powers/The Seahawk

Ty Gadsden (10) tries to get open during UNCW’s Tuesday night game v.s. UNC Greensboro

Brandon Sans, Sports Editor

UNC Wilmington men’s basketball couldn’t leave Trask Coliseum on Sunday with just a win.

After a winless start to the season and with National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics-opponent Allen in the Port City, the Seahawks (1-3) needed a declaration.

After a disappointing first half where Allen trailed by single digits with minutes to go, UNCW planted its flag on the defensive end en route to a 113-73 victory.

High-motor Cacok

Senior forward Devontae Cacok reset his own single-game rebound total with 26 boards in the win to go with 20 points. They are nothing to new Cacok who now owns seven of the top-10 rebounding games in UNCW history.

“I didn’t even know [I set the rebounding record],” Cacok said postgame. “That was one of my goals. I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help my team.”

Cacok’s tenacity to rebound is one of the highest coach C.B. McGrath has seen from a post player he’s coached in his twenty years of college basketball. His 11 offensive boards helped the Seahawks score 33 second-chance points.

“He has the highest motor to rebound that I’ve ever coached,” said McGrath. “That’s what he really wants to do. Sometimes it’s hard to keep him off the boards.”

Gadsden goes bonkers

The week of practice after a loss to UNC Greensboro was harder, but more fun than earlier in the season according to sophomore Ty Gadsden. Even though McGrath didn’t alter much of the practice plan, practice is always better when you are productive.

“We started stressing things maybe a little bit more,” said McGrath. “I think it was fun for Ty G. because he had a pretty darn good week at practice.”

Whatever change Gadsden felt took place over the past week was effective for him as he set many career-bests with 26 points on 7-for-10 shooting from three-point range. He carried the Seahawks from beyond the arc as the Seahawks went 4-for-23 from deep outside of Gadsden’s performance.

The stops the Seahawks made on the defensive end led to many open looks and easy baskets for the Seahawks. They had more success against Allen’s full-court press than the other opponents who pressed against the Seahawks this year.

“We stopped thinking about ourselves,” said Gadsden on the win. “We started thinking as a team and playing for each other.”

Down, but not out

It did not appear the Seahawks would get the statement win it needed against Allen after the first half concluded. The Seahawks led by 10 points but had allowed Allen to score 45 points and committed 11 turnovers.

“I don’t think we felt good after our first-half performance,” said McGrath. “I do think we can take some positives of the eight to ten minutes to start the second half, where we just started playing basketball.”

There was never any real doubt the Seahawks would win as they never trailed, but how they won would be the focus as they head to Asheville to compete in the Battle of the Blue Ridge over Thanksgiving holiday. The second half provided the declaration not to cast the Seahawks aside just yet.

After UNCW missed the first six of its seven three-pointers, it decided to feed the ball inside to Cacok and other interior players which would lead to 46 points in the paint. Though they lost the overall turnover battle (18-15), the Seahawks did allow one less giveaway to the Yellow Jackets after the half and their seven second-half turnovers were the lowest in a half this year.

The Seahawks held the Yellow Jackets to 29 points after the break while pushing the ball to the tune of 36 fast break points. While there’s still much to be desired against Division-I competition, it beat a team it was supposed to beat by 39 points which should count for something moving forward.

“We wanted to progress from here, move from here,” said Cacok. “We had to come together and stop worrying about ourselves. Playing as a team is the only way we can win.”