WILMINGTON, NC – UNCW coughed up an early 17-point lead before rallying from an eight point deficit to force overtime to outlast Liberty, 69-64, in a wild men’s basketball game Tuesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks improved to 1-1 after handing Buzz Peterson his first career victory at UNCW in his home debut.
Four Seahawks scored double-digits in the contest. Senior guard Chad Tomko paved the way with a team-high 15 points and added seven assists and two steals. Sophomore center Matt Wilson poured in 13 points, junior guard Trevor Deloach had 12 and senior guard Ahmad Grant collected 10 points.
Sophomore forward Antwan Burrus led Liberty with 16 points. Junior guard John Brown added 14 points and junior guard David Minaya chipped in 11 more.
UNCW built a 37-23 lead at intermission before Liberty staged a furious comeback in the first 12 minutes of the second half. Back-to-back dunks by Brown kicked off a suffocating 21-2 run as the Flames took control, 46-43, with nine minutes remaining in regulation.
UNCW trailed by eight points when Minaya sank a three pointer to put Liberty up, 55-47, with 4:01 left before the Seahawks clawed their way back.
The Seahawks dominated the final four minutes of regulation with a 12-4 run that included pivotal three pointers from Deloach and Tomko. Liberty was clinging to a 59-56 lead with 14 seconds showing when Tomko banked in a triple from the top of the key to send the game into overtime at 59-all.
Sophomore forward Keith Rendleman fouled out six seconds into overtime after contributing eight points and seven rebounds for UNCW . The Seahawks took an early lead in the extra period and never looked back when Grant scored on a powerful drive to the basket for a 61-59 advantage. UNCW outscored Liberty, 10-5, in overtime while converting 6-of-7 free throws to nail down their first win of the new season.
The Seahawks built a steady lead throughout the opening period . UNCW recorded its largest lead of the game, 32-15, when Rendleman took a nifty pass from Deloach and dunked the ball with 4:17 remaining.
UNCW shot 68 percent from the field in the first period while holding Liberty to 31 percent in the opening period. The Seahawks complete a two-game homestand on Thursday night at 7 p.m. when Morehead State (2-0) visits Trask Coliseum for the first time.