Seahawks continue to grow during exhibition win

McLeod Brown | Sports Editor

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It was only an exhibition game for the UNC Wilmington men’s basketball team, but it was also a new start for the team as they prep for their regular-season opener next week.


The Seahawks topped Belmont Abbey 101-51 on Wednesday in the first of two exhibition games they’ll host before going on the road against Iowa next Friday to open up their regular season.


Cedrick Williams led all scorers with 15 points on 6-7 shooting to go along with seven rebounds in just 15 minutes of play. The junior was one of five UNCW players to score in double figures. Senior Tanner Milson added 13, including a trio of three-pointers, with senior Chris Dixon pitching in with 11.


Senior forwards Shane Reybold and Marcus Graham also finished with 10 apiece for UNCW.


After losing two-time first team All-CAA performer Keith Rendleman to graduation, this year’s team will look to rely on an assortment of players to replace Rendleman’s production.


“With this team, it’s a lot more balanced from the past few years,” Williams said. “Everybody knows that Keith was a great player and that he left. We had a major hole to fill with this team, and I feel like with this group of boys, we’re able to do that. Everybody stepped up, we executed great tonight, and we had a high level of energy.”


After entering the first media timeout with only a 5-2 lead, UNCW broke the game open going on a 23 to 7 run to lead 28-9 with 7:56 left in the first half. The margin would grow to a 44-24 halftime advantage for UNCW.


The Seahawks showed many improved qualities from last year on the way to the most lopsided exhibition win in program history, and none was more important than ball control.


UNCW finished the evening with a 28:10 assist-to-turnover ratio, led by Milson and redshirt sophomores Craig Ponder and Luke Hager, who all finished with five assists on the evening.


“I thought we did a good job of sharing the ball and being unselfish,” said coach Buzz Peterson. “When you can make the right, smart choice, you don’t have to make the home run play every time. Sometimes you’ll get those assists like that.”


With their Nov. 8 tilt against Iowa getting closer, the team will have to find its identity fast, something it took the right direction towards on Wednesday.


The Seahawks will return to Trask on Sunday to host Methodist in their final exhibition game of the season where they’ll look to continue growing as a unit.


“Just continue to get better on both ends of the floor,” Peterson said when asked about Sunday’s goal. “I told the guys before the game, ‘You’re going to make mistakes out there. They’re going to happen. Just play through them.’ It’s natural, it’s going to happen. People are going to jump our cuts, but just play through them. Don’t panic.”