WILMINGTON, NC (COURTESY UNCWSPORTS.COM) – Senior guards Denzel Ingram and Chris Flemmings combined for 38 points and preseason favorite UNCW remained unbeaten in the Colonial Athletic Association with an 84-76 victory over stubborn Hofstra early Saturday at Trask Coliseum.
The defending CAA champion Seahawks, tied atop the league standings, won their sixth straight contest to raise their record to 17-2 overall and 6-0 in the CAA. The Pride dropped under .500 and owns a 9-10 mark in all games and 1-5 in the league.
Ingram, from Chapel Hill, N.C., shared game-honors with his 20 points and filled up the stat sheets with five rebounds and five assists. Flemmings had 18 points and sophomore guard C.J. Bryce and graduate guard Ambrose Mosley contributed 16 and 10. Bryce collected his second double-double of the season by pulling down 10 rebounds.
Senior guard Deron Powers, a transfer from Hampton playing his first game against the Seahawks, led the Pride with 20 points and a game-high eight assists. Junior forward Rokas Gustys had his seventh double-double of the season and the 30th of his career with 15 points and 16 rebounds, sophomore guard Justin Wright-Foreman scored 13 and senior guard Brian Bernardi wound up with 12.
“I thought Hofstra came in and played tremendously hard,” said Kevin Keatts, UNCW’s third-year coach. “They had three guards who were tough to stay in front of. They came out in the beginning and tried to match us with four guards.
“We played well in spurts in the first half, but we did a great job in the second half and turned them over nine times. We shared the ball with 15 assists on 25 made field goals. To play the way we play with just four turnovers says a lot about our players.
“It was a great game and I’m excited about it. With short turnaround, you don’t have as much time to prepare. Our guys did a great job with the short time to prepare. We’re a very good basketball team, but still have a long ways to go.”
The Seahawks, who snapped a two-game losing streak to the Pride at Trask Coliseum, trailed early, bounced back to go ahead by two points at halftime and then controlled the second half to give Keatts his 30th home victory against just four losses in three seasons.
In the second half, the Seahawks inched out to a 51-47 edge at the 15-minute mark on a free throw line jumper by Ingram, but the Pride wouldn’t go away.
A Bernardi trey from the top of the key helped Hofstra climb within 59-57 with 10:39 left, but the Seahawks answered with a 9-0 run to gain some breathing room. Four different players contributed in the rally and the lead swelled to 67-57 when Ingram knocked down both ends of a bonus situation with 7:08 on the clock.
UNCW posted its largest lead of the game at the 5:59 mark on a monstrous dunk by Devontae Cacok, his 55th of the campaign.
The Pride converted five of its first eight field goal attempts, including 4-of-7 from deep, to grab an early working margin. Powers kicked off a 7-0 mini-run with a triple from the left corner and Gustys dropped in a free throw with 16:49 left to give Hofstra an early 12-4 edge.
UNCW still trailed, 34-32, after Powers connected on both ends of a bonus situation before bringing the score even for the first time at 34-all on a pair of free throws by Bryce and a driving layup by Jaylen Fornes with 3:57 left in the first half.
The Seahawks picked up their first lead of the opening period when Fornes dumped the ball over to Ingram in the corner for a three-ball that swished at 1:41 and gave the Seahawks a 39-36 advantage.
Hofstra stormed back to claim a 40-39 edge with under 30 seconds left before Ingram drained a triple with three seconds showing on the clock to give the Seahawks a 42-40 edge at intermission.
UNCW went into the break after leading for just 1:16 in the first half. Hofstra scored 18 points in the paint and 11 second-chance points to control the majority of the first half.
The Seahawks hit the road again on Thursday when they travel to the Lowcountry to face the College of Charleston in a 7 p.m. tip-off at TD Arena. The Pride opens a two-game homestand on Thursday with Towson.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks lead the all-time series by a 19-17 margin…UNCW evened its record at 8-8 against the Pride at Trask Coliseum…Hofstra won the battle of the boards, 42-37…Denzel Ingram dished out eight assists…UNCW matched its season-low with just four turnovers (vs. Toledo on Nov. 27, 2016)…The Seahawks wound up hitting just 39.1 percent from the floor, only the second time this season for the team under the 40 percent mark…UNCW outscored Hofstra at the free throw line, 22-9…The Seahawks scored 42 points in each half…Rokas Gustys snagged 16 rebounds and has averaged 15.7 boards in six career appearances vs. the Seahawks…UNCW has now won 14 of its last 15 games.