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Seahawks downed by rival Cougars in conference opener

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Seahawks downed by rival Cougars in conference opener

Devontae Cacok (15) looks to pass during UNCW's conference opener against College of Charleston on Dec. 29, 2018.

Devontae Cacok (15) looks to pass during UNCW's conference opener against College of Charleston on Dec. 29, 2018.

Noah Powers/The Seahawk

Devontae Cacok (15) looks to pass during UNCW's conference opener against College of Charleston on Dec. 29, 2018.

Noah Powers/The Seahawk

Noah Powers/The Seahawk

Devontae Cacok (15) looks to pass during UNCW's conference opener against College of Charleston on Dec. 29, 2018.

Noah Powers, Assistant Sports Editor

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UNC Wilmington opened up Colonial Athletic Association play against rival College of Charleston Saturday night. And while the Cougars (12-2, 1-0 CAA) came out on top 73-66, this game served as a glimmer of hope for the Seahawk-faithful after an underwhelming finish to non-conference play.

The Seahawks (4-10, 0-1 CAA) were only able to muster four wins during their non-conference slate, with the last coming over East Carolina on Nov. 27. And after over 30 days of winless basketball culminating in a six-game losing streak, the ‘Hawks were able to rally against a then-11-win Charleston team falling by only seven — simply a loss to some, but a sign of the potential the Seahawks possess.

Hawks hang on

The Cougars led for 36 minutes and, at one time, held a 12-point lead over the Seahawks, so the opportunities for Charleston to put distance between itself and UNCW were plentiful. That said, the Seahawks were determined to remain competitive in what could have — and should have — been a blow-out.

Senior Devontae Cacok’s 27 points and 19 rebounds coupled with freshman Kai Toews’ double-double (12 points, 14 assists) and the fact that everyone who stepped on the floor tonight saw at least one bucket go down, showed the grit and determination that many have been searching for since late-November.

In a conference like the CAA, where anything is possible, that grit and determination will be a necessity down the stretch.

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

The Achilles heel of the Seahawks’ season has come in the form of turnovers. Since game one, UNCW has turned the ball over at least 10 times a game, including 14 against Charleston.

Off of those turnovers, the Cougars managed 14 points. Take away some of those turnovers and the momentum of the entire game shifts.

In a conference with teams like Charleston and Hofstra who average over 15 points per game off turnovers, this is an area in which the Seahawks will need to improve heading into CAA play.

Cacok’s double-double

UNCW fans have grown accustomed to watching the six-foot-seven, 240-pound Cacok hit the double-double mark. Prior to tonight’s matchup, the senior forward had done so seven times this season.

After just one half of play, he had 13 points and 10 rebounds giving him his eighth on the season — and the 43rd of his career.

43 was the number needed for Cacok to surpass Keith Rendleman’s 42 career double-doubles, which Cacok tied with 15 points and 10 rebounds against Mercer. This now puts Cacok at no. 2 on the list of career double-doubles as a Seahawk, trailing only Brian Rowsom who put up 50 at the Dub.

With 17 games left on the docket and only eight double-doubles needed to reach the magic 51, Cacok could be on the verge of cementing himself in UNCW’s history books for the long haul.

Up Next

UNCW will take to the road for a two-game stretch taking on James Madison on Jan. 3 and Towson on Jan. 5, before returning to Trask for a matchup against Delaware on Jan. 10 with a 7 p.m. tipoff.

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Seahawks downed by rival Cougars in conference opener