WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW) – Junior guard Shatia Cole (Myrtle Beach H.S./Myrtle Beach, S.C.) led five players in double figures by scoring a game-high 20 points as UNCW (14-15, 10-8) held off a late rally by Hofstra (18-11, 11-7) to earn a 76-75 Colonial Athletic Association victory over the Pride on Senior Night at Trask Coliseum.
With their sixth win in the last seven games, the Seahawks secured the fifth seed in the upcoming Colonial Athletic Association Tournament and will face Elon in the quarterfinals on Friday, Mar. 13 at 2:30 p.m. The Phoenix, which lost twice to UNCW during the regular season, secured the fourth seed by virtue of a 77-76 overtime triumph against Delaware.
In a back-and-forth first half that featured nine lead changes and five ties, the Seahawks overcame a five-point deficit in the first six-plus minutes by going on a 21-8 run that gave UNCW a 28-22 edge with 7:40 remaining on a lay-up by senior guard Kelva Atkins (Granville Central H.S./Stem, N.C.).
But, Hofstra answered by going on a 7-0 spurt to reclaim a 29-28 advantage with 6:29 remaining as sophomore guard Kelly Loftus (Mount Vernon H.S./Alexandria, Va.) scored five of the team’s points during the run.
The teams traded leads five times before a Hofstra free throw with 2:23 left in the opening stanza evened the score at 36-36. But, a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Naqaiyyah Teague (Malcolm X. Shabazz H.S./Newark, N.J.) with 21 seconds left gave UNCW a two-point edge at the intermission.
UNCW continued to hold the lead during the first five minutes of the second half before Hofstra put together a 12-4 run over a five-minute span to take a 9:44 remaining on a Loftus lay-up.
However, the Seahawks countered by scoring 16 of the next 20 points to build their largest advantage of the game at 73-63 with three minutes remaining. Sophomore forward Ryan Flowers (Millbrook H.S./Hickory, N.C.) tallied six points to lead the charge for UNCW.
After Hofstra scored eight consecutive points, including six from junior guard Darius Faulk (Nazareth H.S./Hempstead, N.Y.), to trim the deficit to 73-71 with 1:33 left, sophomore guard Amber Reeves (North Cobb H.S./Marietta, Ga.) converted three of four free throws to build a 76-71 edge.
The Pride scored two baskets in the closing seconds, but did not get any closer.
While Cole led the Seahawks to the victory, Atkins added 18 points with seven assists and three steals. Making the final home appearance of her college career, she converted 8 of 19 shots from the floor and moved into sixth place on the Seahawks’ all-time scoring list.
Teague added a “double double” with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Flowers scored 13 points with eight rebounds off the bench. Sophomore guard Brie Mobley (Winter Haven H.S./Winter Haven, Fla.), the reigning CAA Player of the Week, tallied 10 points with four steals.
Faulk and freshman forward Ashunae Durant (Bloomfield Tech H.S./Newark, N.J.) each tallied 18 points to lead the Pride in the loss while Loftus contributed 14 points.
The Seahawks held a 39-36 rebounding advantage over the Pride en route to snapping a five-game losing streak in the series.
– UNCWSports.com –