Seahawks snap losing streak in win over Northeastern

For the first time in a while, the Seahawk faithful have a reason to celebrate


Noah Powers/The Seahawk

The UNCW student section celebrates

Noah Powers, Sports Editor

WILMINGTON — An overtime thriller paved the way for UNC Wilmington to snap its 12-game losing streak on Saturday. The Seahawks handed Northeastern (10-9, 4-3 CAA) a 76-74 loss to win for the first time since defeating Division III Emory & Henry on Nov. 26.  

This win also came less than a week after the abrupt firing of head coach C.B. McGrath. Interim coach Rob Burke has made noticeable progress, instilling an energetic mentality in the Seahawk program. This became evident after Thursday’s three-point loss to one of the CAA’s leaders Hofstra.  

UNCW (6-15, 1-7 CAA) trailed by as much as 16 with less than 10 minutes in the second half, but Burke’s vibrant and fast-paced style of coaching pushed the Seahawks back in. The game was saved with 2.5 seconds to play, as a dunk from Mike Okauru tied it at 66 apiece.  

The overtime period acted as a shootout for both teams before several miscues from the Huskies sealed the win for UNCW.  

“We’re just going to fight for this thing, man. We’re going to fight,” said Burke. “We needed that to go good, because I have turned up the intensity. If we wouldn’t have gotten any result out of tonight, they would’ve been really, really hurt.”  

Four Seahawks landed in double figures scoring-wise. Brian Tolefree (17 pts), Mike Okauru (16 pts), Shykeim Phillips (14 pts) and Ty Gadsden (10 pts) each hit the double-digit mark, with Okauru grabbing 10 boards for a double-double.  

The win also doubled as a birthday gift for Okauru, who celebrated his 21st on Saturday.  

“This (the win) is the best birthday gift I’ve ever gotten,” said Okauru in the postgame presser. “I’m just thankful for my teammates, we played our hearts out tonight. We gave it all for 45 minutes.” 

With his first two games as head coach out of the way, Burke will have an entire week to fully prepare his team for action. This will give him a chance to immerse his team in what he expects from them in the back stretch of the season and open the door for his energy to completely latch on to the team.  

Next up, UNCW will be on the road, for the first time since losing McGrath, at rival College of Charleston (12-8, 6-2 CAA). The last time the Seahawks squared off with the Cougars, CofC picked up a 70-61 victory. That game is set for a 4 p.m. tipoff on Jan. 25.