UNCW hoops clinches three-peat in CAA regular season

Brandon Sans, Staff Writer

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UNC Wilmington clinched its third straight Colonial Athletic Association regular-season championship Thursday with an 83-78 victory over Towson, also securing the top seed in the CAA Tournament in the process.

“To have the opportunity to be back-to-back-to-back regular season champs is impressive,” said head coach Kevin Keatts.

Lead by sophomore guard C.J. Bryce, it took a team effort to overcome a Towson (19-11, 11-6) team that had won 11 of its past 12 gamest. The production from certain players surprised two-time CAA Coach of the Year Kevin Keatts.

“Every time it got close, someone made a play,” said Keatts.

The size and physicality of Towson found UNCW trailing at the half in nearly every scoring category except for three-point shots made. It prompted Keatts to send a message to his team for the second half.

“I challenged them at halftime because they were getting pushed around,” said Keatts. “If you want to win the game you’ve got to show toughness.”

UNCW came out of halftime playing with much more intensity. Despite not being able to match Towson’s 42-26 points in the paint advantage, UNCW (25-5, 14-3) was able to match the Tigers’ 14 offensive rebounds in the game.

Towson head coach Pat Skerry contributed its loss to not being able to get a stop when needed as well as the play of Bryce, who scored 15 of his 28 points in the second half, including going 4-for-5 from the foul line to help put the game away for UNCW.

“[Bryce] is an assassin,” Skerry. “I’d recommend he’d test the draft waters.”

UNCW will close the regular season out on Saturday when it plays Northeastern at 2 p.m. After that, it is onto the CAA Tournament the following weekend where the Seahawks will look to win its second-straight CAA Tournament championship.