Seahawks set to begin Zootown Classic


UNCW during its matchup with Illinois State on Nov. 9, 2021 (Cameron Smithwick)

Bailey Swogger, Contributing Writer

UNCW men’s basketball will play three consecutive games Nov. 24-26 as part of the Zootown Classic in Missoula, Montana.

The three-day stretch will consist of games against Southern Miss (2-2), Montana (2-2), and UC San Diego (4-0).

Team confidence has to be soaring right now, as the Seahawks go into Montana following back-to-back wins against Coastal Carolina and Delaware State.

The Seahawks must turn to their veteran leadership to lead the way. Against Delaware State, 50 of UNCW’s 67 total points were scored by seniors.

“When you’re on the road, your older guys have to play well,” Head Coach Takayo Siddle said after UNCW’s win at Delaware State (2-3).

The Seahawks’ first test will be on Nov. 24 as they will look to slow down Tae Hardy and the Golden Eagles. The junior guard for Southern Miss is leading the team with 21.3 points per game. Hardy has been shooting the ball well this season. The junior is averaging almost 40% from three and has been effective getting to the free-throw line as well.

On Thanksgiving night UNCW will face a team that looks to win games with their defense. In their two home games this season, Montana’s opponents have only scored an average of 37 points while shooting a mere 28% from the field. The Seahawks will have to limit turnovers and maximize possessions to beat the Grizzlies at home.

And finally, the Seahawks will finish up with UC San Diego on Nov. 26. The Tritons are the only undefeated team in the Zootown Classic. The Tritons get it done on the court in a variety of ways, but Toni Rocak is the team’s key piece. The 6-foot-9 Switzerland native will be a test for the Seahawk forwards down low. So far in 2021, Rocak is averaging 18 points per game.

If UNCW can manage a three-game sweep and finish Nov. on a five-game win-streak, the momentum may be tough for opponents to stop moving forward.

UNCW’s matchup against Montana on Nov. 25 will be streamed on ESPN+. Tipoff is scheduled for 9:30 p.m.