UNCW left to ponder their place in CAA hierarchy

McGrath: “The better team won tonight.”


Noah Powers/The Seahawk

Devontae Cacok (15) during UNCW’s home matchup with Delaware on Jan. 10, 2019.

Brandon Sans, Sports Editor

UNC Wilmington men’s basketball had an opportunity to win three straight games for the first time under coach C.B. McGrath in its return to Trask Coliseum on Thursday.

A win also would have put the Colonial Athletic Association on notice that the Seahawks should be taken as seriously as anyone else in the conference. Instead, UNCW fell 82-69 to Delaware (12-6, 4-1 CAA) and once again provided more questions than answers about the consistency of this year’s team.

Horton hears a Seahawk

After Delaware guard Ithiel Horton hit a three-pointer, he shouted an obscene phrase that drew a technical foul.  Unfortunately, it was his ninth three of the game as he finished with 31 points.

“He can really stroke it, so you’ve got to put some pressure on him. We didn’t do that tonight,” UNCW sophomore Jay Estimé (15 points, 5 rebounds) said. “He got good looks, got good looks often and they fell.”

Horton wasn’t the only Blue Hen that connected on shots beyond the arc; Delaware made 27 three-pointers at a 52 percent clip that left the Seahawks (6-11, 2-2 CAA) to play catch-up for much of the game.

Offensive inconsistency 

Whether it was missing wide-open shots or not getting baskets around the rim to fall, the Seahawks never established any semblance of rhythm on the offensive end.

It took the Seahawks almost ten minutes to make a two-point shot in the second half.

Horton’s technical sparked a mini-UNCW run that cut Delaware’s lead to 11 with 7:11 to go. It never got closer than that, leaving the Seahawks to wonder where the progress they showed in the first three CAA games went.

“I really can’t explain it. I’m sorry. I wish I had answers,” said McGrath postgame.  “Obviously, they were more prepared to play than we were. That’s a simple fact and that’s on me.”

Any momentum the Seahawks built over two CAA road wins was either halted or lost with the Delaware performance. Once again, they are left to balance who they are versus who they want to be.

“We better show up on Saturday [against Drexel],” said McGrath. “We better play with a lot of energy.”

Cacok ties the rebounding record

Senior forward Devontae Cacok dealt with a Blue Hen double-team every time he received the ball in the low post. Even though he did finish with his eleventh double-double of the year (12 points, 12 rebounds), the constant attention he received forced him to take, and miss, many jump shots that were atypical for him.

Cacok tied Keith Rendleman’s school rebounding record at 1,055, but was removed from the game once it was evident there would be no Seahawk comeback. The loss prevented Cacok from fully appreciating the historic accomplishment.

“It doesn’t really matter to me, honestly,” said Cacok. “We came out with a loss, so it doesn’t mean nothing.”

Cacok will stand atop the rebounding list with his next board, but it will have to wait a bit on Saturday against Drexel. He won’t start the game after he was issued a technical foul against Delaware late in the first half.