WILMINGTON, North Carolina – UNCW senior guard Jaylen Sims finished with 12 points in Wednesday night’s 74-69 loss to Norfolk State.
But Seahawk fans really wish he could have made it 14.
UNCW (3-4) trailed 68-67 with under thirty seconds left when Sims followed his own shot with a putback that came within inches of finding the bottom of the net.
Instead, Jaylen Hawkins secured the defensive rebound and knocked down two clutch free-throws to help extend the Spartans’ lead to three.
Although the Hawks were not quite out of it, it surely seemed Sims’ missed basket shifted momentum in favor of Norfolk State (9-1) in what was a close, back-and-forth affair in the last couple of minutes.
Even though Sims couldn’t quite help lift UNCW to victory, he certainly seems like the go-to guy for Head Coach Takayo Siddle when the game is on the line.
Sims scored half of his total points in the final eight-minute stretch and quarterbacked the Seahawk offensive in an efficient manner. The senior made the right passes at the right time and took over when his team needed a timely bucket.
“I’m confident in him [Sims],” Siddle said. “[Playing point guard] is something he is going to have to continue to get used to.”
Norfolk State outscored UNCW 12-4 in the final three minutes. Leading the way for the Spartans were Hawkins and Dana Tate who each finished with 12 points in the second half alone.
Tate finished the night leading Norfolk State in scoring with a season-high 17, followed by Hawkins who tallied a season-high 16.
Both Tate and Hawkins gave the Spartans a boost off the bench and were big reasons Norfolk State was able to outscore the Seahawks 40-10 in that category.
“It was close … it came down to a couple of buckets,” Siddle said. “We let their role guys get off and that was one of my keys to the game … we had a chance to win the game and we didn’t make the plays to win and they [Norfolk State] did.”
UNCW is off the rest of the week for the exam period. The Hawks’ next matchup will come against Jacksonville (3-2) in the Sunshine State on Dec. 11. Streaming is available on ESPN+. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.