WILMINGTON, North Carolina (UNCWSports.com) – UNCW redshirt sophomore guard Ty Taylor sank three clutch free throws with .4 left in regulation to send the game into overtime, but Northeastern scored 11 straight points late in extra time to escape with an 81-77 victory over the Seahawks in Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball action Saturday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Huskies, 11-7 overall and 4-2 in the CAA, snapped a four-game losing streak to the Seahawks and earned a split of their southern swing to Charleston and Wilmington. The Seahawks dropped to 5-13 in all games and stand 2-4 in the circuit.
Northeastern shot 52.8 percent overall and 60 percent in the second half, with eight of the club’s nine players scoring and seven collecting at least seven points in the contest.
“It was a pretty exciting college basketball game,” said UNCW Head Coach C.B. McGrath, who faced the Huskies for the first time. “I’m proud of my team and proud of their fight and effort. We didn’t make some plays at the end of overtime, but we made a ton of plays at the end of regulation.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Fornes of UNCW paced all scorers with a career-high 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-5 from deep. Senior point guard Jordon Talley added 17 points and junior forward Devontae Cacok finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Freshman forward Tomas Murphy came off the bench to anchor four players in double figures for the Huskies with 17 points. Sophomore guard Shawn Occeus collected 15 points, redshirt junior guard Vasa Pusica scored 12 and sophomore guard Maxime Boursiquot chipped in 11.
The Seahawks, who had only led once in the game following a driving layup by Fornes just 2:03 into the contest, bucketed six of the first eight points in overtime to build a 74-70 advantage on a layup in traffic by Marcus Bryan with 3:02 on the clock.
But the Huskies exploded for 11 unanswered points, including a back-breaking triple by sophomore guard Bolden Brace on the right wing with 15 seconds remaining, to overcome the Seahawks. Brace’s triple staked the Huskies to a 79-74 edge before Pusica sank a pair of free throws and Fornes drained a long trifecta at the buzzer to close out the scoring.
The game appeared over with time running out in regulation before Taylor’s heroics. The Wichita State transfer, the team’s third leading scorer, had missed all six of his field goal attempts in regulation, but was fouled with .4 second left by Devon Begley and the Seahawks trailing, 68-65. He coolly sank all three attempts to vault the Seahawks into sudden death for the third time this season.
Northeastern controlled most of the first half for a 33-28 edge at intermission before the Seahawks, behind Cacok, the nation’s second leading rebounder, closed the gap to 37-35 on a monster dunk with 16:41 remaining in the contest.
But the Huskies kept the Seahawks at bay and maintained a 53-46 edge midway through the final period when UNCW rallied again. Fornes capped a 6-0 mini-run with a driving layup down the lane to bring the Seahawks within 53-52 with 8:52 left on the clock until the Huskies answered again.
The pesky Huskies scored 11 of the next 13 points for some breathing room, but Fornes rallied the Seahawks down the stretch and Taylor stepped in.
UNCW was plagued with foul trouble for most of the first half, with its top two scorers – Cacok and Talley – saddled with two personals, but managed to stay within striking distance when Talley reentered to provide a spark late in the opening half.
After rookie guard Jeff Gary banged home a jumper on the right elbow, the Huskies used a 7-0 spurt to build a 10-point lead, 26-16, with 7:15 left in the first period.
NU’s margin was still at 31-22 with 1:25 left when Talley connected on a couple jumpers and Fornes converted a driving layup to narrow the deficit to 31-28 with nine seconds on the clock. But Murphy knifed through the middle of the lane as time expired to give the Huskies a 33-28 advantage at the break.
The Seahawks next travel to Charleston on Thursday to take on preseason favorite CofC at TD Arena in a 7 p.m. tip-off. The Huskies, who are playing five road games in a six-game stretch, conclude a three-game road trip by visiting William & Mary on Thursday at 7 p.m.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks now stand 4-3 at home this season…UNCW still leads the all-time series with NU, 12-11…UNCW is 5-4 against NU at Trask Coliseum through the years… The Seahawks did not attempt a free throw in the first half…Jordon Talley fouled out for the second time this season…UNCW outrebounded NU, 36-33…The Seahawks forced 17 turnovers…UNCW led for 2:50 in the contest…The Huskies outscored the Seahawks in the overtime period, 13-9…The Huskies went 8-of-24 from long distance and the Seahawks made 5-of-18…Jaylen Fornes played a team-high 36 minutes for UNCW…The Seahawks had 11 offensive rebounds.