Seahawks start strong, drop matchup with Hofstra


Noah Powers/The Seahawk

Devontae Cacok (15) during UNCW’s Tuesday night game v.s. UNC Greensboro

Noah Powers, Assistant Sports Editor

In a contest that included 15 lead changes and 12 ties, a lengthy second-half scoring drought and foul trouble turned what should have been a close game into a blowout.

UNC Wilmington (7-12, 3-3 Colonial Athletic Association) travelled to Hempstead, New York Thursday night for a midweek matchup with conference-leader Hofstra. Despite a close first half, the Pride (16-3, 6-0 CAA) would walk away, downing the Seahawks 87-72.

Scoring leaders included Jeantal Cylla (16 points, 6 rebounds), Devontae Cacok (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Ty Gadsden (12 points).

Keeping it close

With UNCW on the receiving end of a 15-point deficit at the final buzzer, it’s hard to fathom that the Seahawks shot 48% from the floor and 60% from behind the arc in the first half. The Seahawks also managed a 42-41 halftime lead over a Hofstra team that hasn’t lost a game since Nov. 24 against Virginia Commonwealth.

However, those percentages would drop significantly in the second half (44.4% FG, 42.9% 3FG). The ‘Hawks would also go on a scoring drought for the better part of seven minutes, opening the door for Hofstra to go on an 18-2 run.

Second-half woes continued for the Seahawks, with no player scoring more than six points in the back half of the contest. Cylla and Ty Taylor would each put six on the board for UNCW, Kai Toews would drop five, Cacok four and Jay Estime’ three. Gadsden, Jaylen Fornes and Jaylen Sims would each score two points apiece.

Doing things, the ‘Wright’ way

Hofstra senior guard Justin Wright-Foreman has seen his share of success this season. The Queens, New York-native currently averages over 26 points per contest and is currently 13 games into leading the Pride to its longest winning streak since the 2000-01 season (17 games).

The last time Hofstra was able to put up a season performance like this, current-Villanova coach Jay Wright was at the helm for the Pride.

Wright-Foreman, who only managed four points in the first half, finished the contest with 19 points and four rebounds. He was aided by Eli Pemberton’s 24 points and six boards.

Though Wright-Foreman had his second-lowest scoring night of the season, he was able to capitalize on an ill-performing UNCW squad in the second half.

Fouls and turnovers

The Seahawks, once again, find themselves acting as their own worst enemy.

UNCW had 12 turnovers, off of which Hofstra would score 21 points. Only once this season has UNCW given the ball up less than 10 times in a game (vs. Delaware).

Foul trouble also acted as a barrier for the Seahawks. Gadsden, Toews and Estime’ picked up three fouls apiece, with Cacok picking up four with over 11 minutes to play. This came at an inopportune time, as with the absence of Cacok also came the inability for a Seahawk to make a basket, allowing the Pride to go on its dominant run.

Another double-double

Perhaps one of the few positives to be taken away from this game was Cacok’s 13th double-double of the season.

This is Cacok’s seventh game in a row reaching double digits in scoring and rebounding. Tonight’s performance also marks 48 career double-doubles for UNCW’s leading all-time rebounder, meaning he needs just two more to tie the all-time double-double record and three more to surpass it.

Brian Rowsom is the current record holder with 50, which he set during the 1986-87 season.

Up next

The Seahawks remain up north for a must-win contest with CAA preseason-favorite Northeastern on Saturday with a noon tipoff.

UNCW has not managed a win over the Huskies since the 2016-17 season. The ‘Hawks lost three times to Northeastern last season: twice in the regular season and once more in the CAA Tournament.