RICHMOND, VA (WWAY) — Ninth-seeded Georgia State held UNCW to a season-low 29.5 percent shooting to eliminate the No. 8 Seahawks, 58-52, in the opening game of the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship on Friday at the Richmond Coliseum.
The Panthers won for the second time in three outings this season against the Seahawks to raise their record to 12-18. GSU takes on top-seeded George Mason on Saturday at Noon.
The Seahawks closed out their first season under Buzz Peterson with a 13-18 mark after falling in their last four games of the year,
“It was an unfortunate loss for us,” said Peterson. “We got stuck on 16 points for a lifetime in the first half. The same thing happened that has hurt us all year – they got too many second and third chance points.”
Junior wing Josh Micheaux paced the Panthers with 14 points and junior forward Eric Buckner chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds. Junior guard Jihad Ali contributed nine points and 11 boards.
Senior guard Chad Tomko, who tied all-time great Brett Blizzard with his 125th career appearance, led the way for the Seahawks with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists. Sophomore forward Keith Rendleman added 10 points.
The Panthers survived a rocky start by tightening up the defense and capitalizing on a cold spell by the Seahawks midway through the first half to hand UNCW its third consecutive first-round loss in the CAA’s post-season event.
UNCW wound up shooting just 25 percent in the first half and 29.5 percent overall on 18-for-61 from the floor. The stingy Panthers held the Seahawks to their two worst shooting performances of the season.
GSU took a 28-26 edge at halftime and remained in control for most of the second half before pulling away in the final three minutes.
The Seahawks did manage to tie the game at 37-all when Rendleman, who was held to one field goal attempt in the first half, came alive. The Iron Station, N.C., product scored the second of three straight baskets to knot the score at 37 with 12:13 left..
But GSU freshman Devonta White answered on the next possession with a three-pointer on the right wing to hand the Panthers the lead for good.
A pair of free throws by James Fields later gave GSU a 54-47 lead with 2:21 remaining before Trevor Deloach connected on a floater in the paint to close the gap to 54-49 at 1:52. The Panthers marched to the free throw line often over the final two minutes and converted just enough free throws to stall any hopes of a comeback for the Seahawks.
Four different players scored as the Seahawks jumped out to a 9-4 advantage three minutes into the contest. After Bucker slammed the ball home to give GSU an early 4-2 lead, Matt Wilson swished a pair of free throws, Tomko converted a driving layup and then drained a three to give UNCW a 9-4 advantage at 17:37.
The Seahawks appeared in control with a 7-0 min-run to push the margin to 16-8. Tomko was the catalyst again, sinking a triple and adding two free throws to give the Seahawks a 16-8 cushion with just under 11 minutes remaining.
But UNCW went cold from the floor and GSU capitalized. The Seahawks went scoreless over a six-minute stretch and the Panthers reeled off 14 consecutive points to secure the lead. Micheaux started the run with a layup and a jumper on the right baseline by Marques Johnson capped the spurt and the Panthers built a 22-16 edge at 4:15.
The Seahawks dialed long distance to pull within 28-26 at the break. An off-balance trey by Tanner Milson with 1:31 left in the period helped to slice the deficit to two points at intermission.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks still lead the series with the Panthers, 8-7…UNCW only committed nine turnovers…UNCW went just 10-for-20 at the free throw line…The game featured 12 blocked shots, eight for the Panthers and four for the Seahawks…Chad Tomko played 39 minutes in his final appearance for the Seahawks…GSU won the rebounding battle, 42-38…Freshman guard Tanner Milson scored all nine of his points in the first half…UNCW attempted 21 more three-pointers than GSU…UNCW now stands 31-23 all-time in the CAA Tournament…Tomko wrapped up his career with 1,702 points in 117 starts.