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UNCW emerges victorious against a scrappy Campbell team

Donovan Newby shoots to score against Campbell. (John Crouch/Uncwsports.com)

The UNCW Seahawks took down the Campbell Fighting Camels in a thrilling home matchup. The final score of this game was 77-74. This victory pushed the Seahawks record to 16-6 (7-3), while it would make Campbell’s record 11-12 (5-5). Saturday’s game was a battle of long-range offense, a shooting barrage. The Seahawks tied a program record with 40 three pointers attempted. They were able to convert on 15 of them, which brought their percentage to 37.5% as a team. Campbell maintained a zone defense throughout most of this game, leading to gaps on the exterior.  

The Seahawks were paced in scoring by Donovan Newby and K.J. Jenkins. They had 22 and 20 points respectively, with Newby shooting 7-15 (6-14), while Jenkins shot 6-17 (5-15). Newby and Jenkins were magnetic threats on the perimeter, shooting a combined 11-29 from three-point range. This was a career high scoring mark for Newby.  

The Seahawk asked Donovan Newby how he stayed composed in such a big moment like this. 

“That’s just my personality,” Newby said. “I guess you could say it comes from where I come from, there was a lot of chaos. And then, our coach says it a lot, it’s about being calm in the fire. That’s what I feel like I can bring to this team, and then it flows to the rest of the team, so we’re all relaxed and composed.”  

KJ Jenkins had this to say about his confidence and his shooting performance.

“It comes from work,” Jenkins said, “and it comes from my teammates trusting me. Coach has been harping on shot selection, and I want to be one of those guys that takes the right shots, the good shots for the team. Bad shots can fuel the transition [offense] and you do not want to be that guy to put bad shots up and let it affect you on the defensive end.”  

The Campbell Fighting Camels were paced by Anthony Dell’Orso, who finished with 23 points and six rebounds, on 7-20 (3-6). Dell’Orso attempted eight free throws as well, making six of them. The second leading scorer for the Camels was Elijah Walsh. Walsh set a career high in scoring with an 18-point game. He had 14 points within the first 12 minutes of the game, providing a shock to the Seahawks. The Seahawks hung on and slowed Walsh down for the rest of the game.  

An advantage the Seahawks possess is depth. In this game, UNCW had four guards under the height of 6’2” play 15+ minutes. They have an ever-changing rotation of big guys, often depending on the matchup. Eric Van Der Heijden played a role in this matchup, playing 12 minutes and converting on his only 3-point field goal attempt. Van Der Heijden’s ability to stretch the floor while playing the center position is a valuable wrinkle to Coach Siddle’s offense.  

“With a one-day prep,” Coach Siddle said, “after an emotional and hard-fought game at Charleston. That’s when the depth kicks in because you can go deep into your bench. I wasn’t able to go as deep as I wanted to tonight, because that is a unique style to play against. So, a lot of times we had five guards out there, with Trazarien playing the five. One of our strengths is our depth. We always talk about it, always talk about having strength as a unit. Because it is a real thing, yes.”  

Siddle consistently speaks about the importance of teamwork and continuity. This is a crucial factor to the culture that he is building in Wilmington.  

This was an important game for both teams, but especially for UNCW. Going into this game, UNCW’s conference record was 6-3. That kept them right in the mix under Drexel, with teams like College of Charleston (COFC) and Towson. Drexel started the year a tier above the rest of the pack, winning their first seven conference games. However, they  lost two of their last three games in conference leading up to their time at Trask Coliseum, bringing their conference record to 8-2. After UNCW’s win over Campbell this past Saturday, UNCW tied for second place and just one game back in conference play behind Drexel. They are tied with Charleston and Towson.  

In the matchup against Drexel the first time, UNCW was away from home for their fourth out of five consecutive road games. Also, this game came directly after playing at the University of Arkansas. The loss to Drexel was the second of three losses in a row that were suffered around the turn of the new year for the Seahawks. Drexel will now be the ones away from home, having to come out of their comfort zone and come down to Wilmington. They will come into Trask Coliseum and play in front of a rowdy UNCW crowd. With four consecutive home sell outs including the game against Campbell, the Seahawks fans will look to make it five in a row for the big game on Thursday night.  

Overall, UNCW’s victory over Campbell is another gutsy and meaningful win for the Seahawks. Games like Saturday’s are often signs of teams that have the grit and championship DNA necessary to be successful. This current team is another ever growing example of the tremendous job that Coach Takayo Siddle has done at UNCW. This team has evolved significantly since the beginning of the season. When everything is working, they are a well-oiled machine.  

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