WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW) — After spending the last three games away from Trask Coliseum, the UNCW women’s basketball team was very happy to be back on its home court Thursday night.
It certainly showed as the Seahawks (7-11, 3-4) surged out to a 20-point lead in the first half and held off a late charge by Elon (11-7, 4-3) to earn a 76-68 Colonial Athletic Association victory over the Phoenix.
Senior guard Kelva Atkins (Granville Central H.S./Stem, N.C.) scored 15 of her game-high 22 points in the opening 20 minutes as the Seahawks built a 39-21 lead at the intermission en route to the victory.
Led by eight points from Atkins, UNCW sprinted out to a 13-3 advantage in the opening five minutes of the game while limiting the Phoenix to just one field goal in seven attempts.
The Phoenix trimmed the margin to 18-10 with 12:33 remaining in the opening stanza before the Seahawks used a 9-2 spurt over the next three minutes to extend the advantage to 27-12.
The Seahawks continued to increase their cushion and led by a 39-19 margin with 24 seconds remaining before a jumper by junior guard Josepha Mbouma (Watkins Mill H.S./Montgomery Village, Md.) to end the first half gave UNCW an 18-point edge at the intermission.
Led by five points from freshman guard Shay Burnett (Southern Alamance H.S./Graham, N.C.), the Phoenix opened the second half by scoring 8 of the first 10 points to reduce the gap to 41-29 with 16:32 remaining.
UNCW pushed the advantage back to 52-35 with 12:42 left in the second half before Elon went on an 11-2 spurt to trim the margin to 54-46 with 9:34 remaining. Sophomore guard Lauren Brown (Alpharetta H.S./Alpharetta, Ga.) connected on two of the Phoenix’s three three-point field goals during the run.
After the Seahawks put the advantage into double digits at 58-47, the Phoenix responded by scoring 15 of the next 23 points to narrow the gap to 66-62 with 31 seconds remaining on a three-point field goal by senior guard Zora Stephenson (Oakton H.S./Vienna, Va.).
But, UNCW secured the victory by making 10 consecutive free throws in the final 28 seconds.
One of three UNCW players to score in double figures, Atkins made 8 of 13 shots from the floor and also contributed a 6-for-8 effort at the free throw line with four rebounds and three steals. Sophomore guard Brie Mobley (Winter Haven H.S./Winter Haven, Fla.), who made her first start of the season, added 15 points with five rebounds and four assists while sophomore guard Naqaiyyah Teague (Malcolm X. Shabazz H.S./Newark, N.J.) scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Stephenson led Elon in a losing effort by scoring 15 points after making 5 of 11 three-point field goal attempts while senior forward Sam Coffer (Northern Guilford H.S./Greensboro, N.C.) posted 12 points with seven rebounds.
The Seahawks, who ended a three-game losing streak with the win, will return to Trask Coliseum on Sunday, Jan. 25 to host Towson in a CAA clash at 2:00 p.m. The Tigers edged Northeastern by a 65-61 margin at SECU Arena on Thursday night.