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The news site of UNC Wilmington

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The Seahawk

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The Seahawk

UNCW men’s basketball soars past N.C. A&T Aggies in a dominant home win

Harden-Hayes getting to the rim against NC A&T. (Chris Crouch/UNCWSports.com)

The UNCW men’s basketball team continued their run in the CAA with a 73-54 victory over North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) Aggies on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. This win marks UNCW’s fifth consecutive win.

Senior guard, KJ Jenkins contributed 12 points from deep for the Seahawks. He converted four of his seven attempts from beyond the arc. With a hot start from Jenkins, Trask was on their feet during the Seahawks’ start. The Seahawks led through much of the first half and controlled the pace of this game, bringing intensity on the inside.

“We have been doing that (rebounding) really well,” said UNCW Head Coach Takayo Siddle. “Over our last eight or nine games we’ve out-rebounded our opponents, so we have to continue to do that.”

Siddle said he takes great pride in the team’s defensive performance, but felt they struggled with taking care of the basketball in the first half of this match.

“They pushed us in the first half,” Siddle said. “I didn’t think we came out with the right energy and that’s on me.”

Surigao drives against the Aggie defense. (Chris Crouch/UNCWSports.com)

By halftime, the Aggies closed the gap to one point. They were led by sophomore Camian Shell. Shell led the young team in scoring, finishing the game with 21 points. Going into the second half, UNCW’s graduate guard Shykeim Phillips knew something had to shift.

“We just knew we had to get off to a good start,” said graduate guard Shykeim Phillips. “Everybody was holding each other accountable.”

UNCW relentlessly carried intensity from the start of the second half to the finish. The Seahawks took care of the ball, played hard defense, and only allowed six made-field goals for the Aggies in the second half. The Seahawks applied pressure against the Aggies from behind the three-point line as well. The Aggies were 0-10 from behind the arc in the second half.

After building an already substantial lead in the second half, the Seahawks broke away with Phillips scoring the majority of his 24-point contribution in the second half. Shooting at 67% this game, Phillips was two points shy from breaking his career high of 25 points.

Graduate guard Maleeck Harden-Hayes returned to Trask Coliseum in his second appearance post-injury. In 17 minutes the 6’7 wing converted 12 points and four rebounds. While Harden-Hayes’ shot struggled to translate in the first half – only scoring three points – he found it “easy to stay motivated,” with support from teammates and coaches.

“I think what happened today is just like having a bad first half is something that we’ll be able to learn from to prepare ourselves for Elon but for the conference tournament as well,” said Harden-Hayes.

The Seahawks’ next game is against William & Mary. This game is scheduled for Feb. 22, at 7 p.m.

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