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UNCW loses lead just before the buzzer to fall to Campbell Camels

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BUIES CREEK, NC (WWAY)-- Senior guard Junard Hartley swished a three-pointer from deep in the left corner to propel Campbell over UNCW, 57-56, in a wild non-conference men's basketball game Wednesday night at the Pope Convocation Center.

The Camels rallied from 10 points down at halftime to extend their winning streak to five games and improve to 7-3 on the season. The Seahawks, who dropped a two-point decision to Illinois State on Monday, lost their second straight nailbiter and dipped to 5-6 heading into the Christmas break.

Junior guard Lorne Merthie led the Camels with 14 points and Marvelle Harris added 11 and seven rebounds for Campbell, which shot 44.4 percent on the night. CU spoiled UNCW's debut in the Pope Center and left the Seahawks with a 1-5 record on the road.

UNCW junior guard Trevor Deloach came off the bench to lead all scorers with 17 points. He was the only player in double figures for the Seahawks, who shot 33.3 percent in the second half after connecting on 50 percent in the first half.

After falling behind 31-21 at halftime and rallying down the stretch, the Camels still trailed 55-54 with 9.4 seconds on the clock when senior guard Chad Tomko was fouled. Tomko made the first of two free throws to push the margin to 56-54, but the Camels, with no time outs remaining, got the ball in play quickly, found Hartley in the left corner and the Atlanta, Ga., product delivered the game-winner with just under two seconds remaining. The Seahawks attempted a long desperation shot to no avail.

UNCW's 10-point halftime cushion dissipated in the first four minutes of the second half when Campbell came out firing. Sparked by Merthie, CU closed to within 33-31 by scoring 10 of the first 12 minutes of the second period.

The Seahawks eventually increased the margin to 52-47 on a triple by Tanner Milson with 4:32 left, but the Camels responded with five unanswered points to knot the score. Hartley was the catalyst and his bucket in the paint with 2:18 left to play finally evened the score at 52-all.

Senior guard Ahmad Grant then canned a trey from the top of the key to give the Seahawks a 55-52 lead at 1:40, but Harris made a jumper in the paint 25 seconds later, setting up the frenetic finish.

In the 96th meeting of the longtime rivals, the Seahawks got off to a quick start, making their first three shots, for a 6-0 lead before the Camels responded with a 7-0 spurt. Merthie's triple from the left wing gave the Camels a 7-6 edge at 16:50.

The Seahawks took advantage of a lengthy drought by the Camels to break away in the first period. After Amir Celestin connected on a floater in the paint at 15:03, the Seahawks scored 11 unanswered points while keeping the Camels off the scoreboard.

Reigning CAA Rookie-of-the-Week Donte Morales drained a three-ball from the right corner with 8:26 left in the first half as the lead swelled to 20-11. Eric Griffin then grabbed a rebound and dunked the ball at 7:42 to end an almost eight-minute lapse for CU.

UNCW posted its largest lead of the half with 1:28 left in the first period when Deloach banged in a trifecta for a 31-17 bulge. Deloach came off the bench to contribute a team-high seven points in eight minutes in the first stanza. CU managed to score the final four points of the half to close the gap to 10 points at intermission.

The Seahawks break for the Christmas holiday and return to action on Thursday, Dec. 30, when Toledo visits Trask Coliseum for a 7 p.m. tip-off. The Camels travel to East Tennessee State on the same day for a 7 p.m. clash with the Buccaneers in Johnson City.

GAME NOTES: UNCW won last year's installment in the longtime series, 79-59, at Trask Coliseum...Buzz Peterson now stands 1-3 against the Camels in four tries...The Seahawks are now 35-10 against the Camels since turning Division I in 1976-77...The Seahawks are 1-2 against state teams this season...The two teams combined to go 18-for-35 at the free throw line...UNCW committed 19 turnovers and Campbell had 13 miscues...Eric Griffin had four of Campbell's 12 steals...UNCW won the battle of the boards, 36-31, but gave up 13 offensive rebounds to the Camels...Trevor Deloach and Chad Tomko shared rebounding honors with nine boards apiece...CU outscored UNCW, 28-14, in the paint.

Game article courtesy UNCW Sports Information

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