RICHMOND, VA (UNCW sports release) -– Freshman forward Cedrick Williams and sophomore reserve Shane Reybold each posted new career highs in scoring and ninth-seeded UNCW used a 15-2 run midway through the first half to race past No. 8 James Madison, 70-59, in the opening game of the 2012 Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship Friday at the Richmond Coliseum.
The Seahawks, 10-20 overall, will face regular season champion and top-seeded Drexel Saturday in one of four quarterfinal matchups. The Dukes ended their season with a 12-20 mark.
It marked UNCW’s first CAA Tournament win in four years, dating back to an 83-59 decision over Delaware on March 8, 2008.
“The first four minutes of the second half were the most important for us to win this ball game,” said second-year UNCW coach Buzz Peterson. “We tried to focus in practice on bringing a lot of energy into the game and I thought we had some of our best practices all year leading into this game.”
Williams entered the contest averaging just 4.9 points, but surpassed that with 11 points in the first half and wound up with a game-high 22 points to lead four Seahawks in double figures. Reybold had not scored more than two points in his 27 career appearances, but collected seven points and seven rebounds in a yeoman effort for Peterson’s club.
Junior forward Keith Rendleman, who was named First-Team All-CAA less than 16 hours earlier, contributed 14 points, including 12 as UNCW jumped out to a 34-25 lead at intermission. CAA All-Rookie team selection Adam Smith chipped in 12 points and six boards.
Rendleman’s 14 points left him just five points shy of 1,000 for his career. The Iron Station, N.C., product added three assists and two steals in the do-or-die win for the Seahawks.
Senior guard Humpty Hitchens and freshman guard Adam Marks paced the Dukes with 12 points apiece.
The Seahawks got off to a sluggish start, falling behind 13-4 in the first four minutes, before regrouping to blow past the Dukes. UNCW led by as many as 23 in the contest and avenged a 69-61 loss to JMU in the only regular season meeting between the two clubs back on Jan. 18 at Trask Coliseum.
Five different players scored as JMU bolted out to a 13-4 lead at the first official timeout. A triple by Hitchens just 4:26 into the contest staked the Dukes to an early nine-point cushion. With Reybold and Williams giving the team a lift, UNCW chipped away at the JMU lead, however, and finally caught up with the Dukes with the big push midway through the first period.
After Davis connected on a free throw with just under 10 minutes to give JMU a 20-15 advantage, the Seahawks used the decisive 15-2 spurt to break away. Rendleman scored six points and Smith had four in the rally, which was capped by a conventional three-point play by Williams that staked UNCW to a 30-22 lead.
The Seahawks then took their largest lead of the opening period into the break when Williams converted a layup with 1:44 remaining. Rendleman and Williams were both in double figures and no JMU player had scored more than five points in the opening 20 minutes.
UNCW remained in the control in the second half and extended its margin to 23 points before JMU made a late push.
The Seahawks outscored the Dukes, 19-5, over the first 10 minutes of the second half and Smith’s second 3-pointer in the run gave UNCW a comfortable 53-30 advantage with 9:04 left to play.
JMU managed to slice the deficit to seven points with just under two minutes remaining, but the Seahawks answered with some solid free throw shooting down the stretch after missing three consecutive bonus situations to energize the JMU rally.
A triple by Marks brought the Dukes within, 60-53, at 1:40 before Williams made four straight free throws and Milson added another pair to get the lead back to 13 points. The Seahawks wound up converting 26-of-32 free throws on the day and drained 18-of-23 after intermission.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks improved to 32-23 lifetime in the CAA Tournament…UNCW now stands 5-2 against JMU in CAA Tournament matchups…The win was Buzz Peterson’s first CAA Tournament victory as UNCW’s coach…The Seahawks now lead the all-time series with JMU, 33-29…UNCW is 4-2 against JMU at the Richmond Coliseum…Four Seahawks had six or more rebounds…Both teams had 12 turnovers…UNCW won the rebounding battle, 38-31…The Seahawks were a chilly 2-for-11 behind the arc…Shane Reybold played a career-high 17 minutes…UNCW had 16 offensive rebounds…Only one JMU player – Humpty Hitchens – scored in double figures…The Seahawks are 2-4 against JMU’s Matt Brady.
Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total
UNCW 34 36 70 Record: (10-20)
James Madison 25 34 59 Record: (12-20)