Duke holds off pesky UNCW to advance to NCAA second round

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UNCW put a scare into the defending national champions in the Seahawks’ first trip to the Big Dance in a decade, but it wasn’t enough.

Duke survived and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 93-85 win over UNCW in Providence, RI.

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The Seahawks led by as many as seven points in the first half, but Duke’s Brandon Ingram hit a three-pointer just before the intermission to cut the UNCW lead to 43-40.

The Blue Devils then opened the second half on a 16-3 run as they upped the defensive pressure and UNCW got into quick foul trouble. Duke never looked back.

UNCW, which was the 13th seed in the West region, ends the season 25-8, including a CAA championship.

Fourth-seeded Duke advances to the round of 32, where they’ll take on Yale.

WWAY’s John Rendleman will have a complete wrap-up of the game tonight on WWAY NewsChannel 3.

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PROVIDENCE, RI (UNCW) — No. 4-seeded Duke used a 19-3 run early in the second half to gain some separation and outscored UNCW by 17 points at the free throw line to hold off the Seahawks, 93-85, in the opening round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship early Thursday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

The Blue Devils raised their record to 24-10 with the victory and will play the winner of Thursday’s second game between Yale and Baylor.

UNCW, the No. 13 seed in the West Region, closed out the season with a 25-8 record – tying the school record for victories – and made its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the Colonial Athletic Association championship. The Seahawks lose only three seniors off this year’s talented club.

“I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys that have laid it on the line for me 33 games this year,” said Kevin Keatts, UNCW’s second -year head coach. “I thought they (Duke) did a really good job, especially in the second half, handling our pressure. I thought it bothered them, but they didn’t turn it over as much.

“They made some runs that I thought was the difference in the game. I felt like they got a few 50/50 balls that we didn’t. I thought it was a great basketball game. I was excited to be a part of it.”

Senior guard Craig Ponder poured in 22 points to anchor four starters in double figures for the Seahawks, who shot 44.1 percent on the day. Junior guard Chris Flemmings contributed 18, junior guard Denzel Ingram scored 17 and freshman guard C.J. Bryce had 16.

Graduate center Marshall Plumlee and sophomore guard Grayson Allen paced the Blue Devils with 23 points apiece. Freshman forward Brandon Ingram collected 20 points and junior guard Matt Jones wound up with 12 points for the defending national champions.

The Seahawks shot 51.5 percent to build a 43-40 edge at intermission and still led, 46-42, early in the second half when the Blue Devils made their charge.

Ingram scored on a layup with 18:14 left to play as the Blue Devils reeled off 14 unanswered points as part of the big 19-3 spurt. Plumlee’s dunk, one of eight slams on the day, gave Duke a 61-49 advantage with 13 minutes remaining in the contest.

But the Seahawks climbed back into it and closed within 78-73 on a conventional three-point play by Bryce with 4:42 on the clock.

Duke responded, however, with five straight points to get the lead back to 83-73 and still led 90-82 when Ingram connected on a long bomb in front of the UNCW bench to close the gap to 90-85 with 1:24 to go.

But time ran out on the Seahawks as Allen sank three free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal the win. Allen made 15-of-17 free throws on the day and attempted just two less free throws than the entire Seahawk team. He tied an opponent record for most free throws made in a game against the Seahawks.

Duke finished the game shooting 53.7 percent on 29-of-54 field goals and tossed in 31-of-43 free throws, including 15-of-22 during its comeback in the second half.

After a sluggish start, the Seahawks regrouped to grab their first lead of the contest, 9-8, on a floater along the right side by Bryce. Midway through the second half, Duke strung together seven straight points to grab a 19-14 advantage, but the Seahawks, behind Flemmings and Ingram, battled back to take the lead at the break. Flemmings and Bryan combined for 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting in the opening period.

UNCW enjoyed its largest lead of the game, 41-34, after a trey by Ingram with 48 seconds left in the first half. However, Luke Kennard made a trifecta and Ingram’s three-ball as time expired pulled the Blue Devils within 43-40 at intermission

GAME NOTES: Duke now leads the all-time series, 2-0, after winning, 67-57, on Feb. 8, 1982, in the first meeting…The Seahawks committed just nine turnovers…Duke built a 40-34 edge on the boards…Chris Flemmings and Denzel Ingram each played 39 minutes in the contest…The Seahawks made seven more three-pointers than the Blue Devils…UNCW won the battle on the offensive glass, 13-12…Duke scored 46 of its 93 points in the paint…UNCW had 18 second-chance points…There were six ties and 12 lead changes in the contest…Grayson Allen had a double-double with his 23 points and 10 rebounds, the 13th opponent to do so this season…UNCW’s NCAA Tournament record now stands at 1-5…The Seahawks are 2-38 lifetime vs. ACC opponents.