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The Seahawk

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The Seahawk

UNCW takes victory over COFC during home game

Ross looking to pass the ball during game (Tom Hanna/UNCWSports.com).

In a highly competitive matchup, the UNCW Seahawks defeated the College of Charleston (COFC) Cougars 78-69. The game was held in Trask Coliseum with a total audience of 5,100. UNCW’s leading scorer was KJ Jenkins with 20 points, while COFC was paced by Ante Brzovic, who led their team with 27 points. Jenkins provided perimeter shooting and connectivity for the Seahawk offense in this game. This game was a battle between two determined teams with veteran experience.

The Seahawks and Cougars have a heated rivalry that has intensified as both programs progress in the conference. Last year, UNCW played against COFC on three separate occasions, where the Cougars would come out on top each time. One match includes the conference championship game where the Seahawks would lose by only five points.

UNCW opened the game without one of their key starters, Maleeck Harden-Hayes, who was out for the second straight game. He sustained an injury in the game on Jan. 14 against Delaware. Due to Charleston’s offensive style and shooting proficiency, this was a particularly poor matchup to be without Harden-Hayes.

Out of 351 qualified teams, COFC ranks third in the entire country in 3-point attempts per game. The team shot just over 31 three-pointers as a team, trailing North Florida and Brigham Young University. In the country, UNCW ranks 264 out of 351 in 3-point defense percentage coming into the game and being without one of their highest performing perimeter defenders, they expected that it would be a clear goal for the Cougars to attack them on the perimeter.

The UNCW student section was a hot topic of this game. Between the costumes, chants and constant banter, the Teal Nation was in full force.  In the Student Section was the CAA Winning Men’s Swimming team. After accepting their championship, the swim team got into the student section and stripped down to their speedos. Fans were taking pictures and posting them on social sites.

Swim team strips down to speedos at home game (John Crouch/UNCW).

Whether these antics have any real effect on the game or not, UNCW is 45-8 in home conference sell outs. This game shows the effect that the UNCW student section has when it is in full effect. Viral social media account Big Game Boomer ranked UNCW’s student section #5 in the nation for the week of Jan. 15-21.

Spectators believe this national news coverage is a good trend for the athletes moving forward. Along with media coverage, the UNCW players and coaches felt the environment too; the coaches believe the Trask Coliseum home court advantage is a real thing.

“That was a fun, electric atmosphere,” Coach Siddle said. “That was the best atmosphere I’ve been a part of, in my time here and at NC State. That was better than UNC and North Carolina State’s rivalry. Better than North Carolina State and Duke. That was the best atmosphere I have ever been a part of, and it was all because of our fans.”

Overall, UNCW came out on top in an important conference rivalry game and handed COFC their first conference loss of the year and got revenge for last year. Some of the key players in this game include: Shykeim Phillips, Trazarien White and Ahmard Harvey.

Phillips finished with 18 points and six assists, including a series of clutch plays in the last moments of the game. White, the Seahawks’ third-leading scorer, had 17 points and seven rebounds. In only his third game back from injury, Harvey, who played just 14 minutes before this match, contributed significantly by playing 16 minutes. During this game, he secured six rebounds and a block. Notably, three of these rebounds were on the offensive end, crucially extending Seahawk possessions in a pivotal offensive showdown.

The Seahawks’ latest victory improved their record to 13-5. They have secured four consecutive wins after facing three losses around New Year’s. With a current conference record of 4-2 and a perfect home record of 6-0, the Seahawks are set to play their next game on Jan. 25 at Northeastern University.

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