Seahawks begin CAA Title defense against Hofstra


CHARLESTON, South Carolina (UNCWSports.com) – The UNCW men’s basketball team shoots down U.S. Route 17 to the Low Country this weekend to defend its back-to-back titles when the Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship presented by Jersey Mike’s gets under way at the North Charleston Coliseum.

The Seahawks, who ran the table in last year’s debut in North Charleston, enter the 10-team tourney as the No. 6 seed after finishing 10-20 overall and 7-11 in the CAA during the regular season.

UNCW meets No. 3 Hofstra (19-11, 12-6) on Sunday, March 4, at 8:30 p.m. The two teams split a pair of regular season contests, with each club winning by 20 points on its home floor.

“The Drexel win in the last game of the season was big,” reflected McGrath. “That gave us a chance to be the sixth seed. We’ve played Hofstra twice and it was a tale of two games. They obviously have some explosive scorers, along with (Rokas) Gustys in the middle.

“It’s going to be a heckuva tournament and we look forward to participating. We know what it’s going to take there. The whole tournament’s up for grabs. We can’t worry about what everybody else does. We have to play well against Hofstra and go from there.”

UNCW, picked to finish fifth in the CAA’s preseason poll, opened the campaign with a few question marks following the departure of several key elements from last year’s 29-6 club that battled Virginia down to the wire in the NCAA Tournament in Orlando. When the regular season ended with last Saturday’s 83-82 thriller at Drexel, the Seahawks finished a challenging year on a high note.

The Seahawks showed spunk throughout much of the season, battling into overtime in five contests and registering 20-point conference victories over Drexel and Hofstra. But a 2-15 record away from Trask Coliseum kept the club under .500 in the win-loss column.

Junior forward Devontae Cacok and senior playmaker Jordon Talley have been UNCW’s catalysts all season long.

Cacok paces the team in scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounding (13.8) and tops all NCAA Division I players in several statistical categories, including rebounds per game, offensive rebounds and total rebounds. Overall, the double-double machine has racked up 22 double-doubles and matched his own CAA record for rebounds in a game with 24 boards vs. James Madison on Jan. 25 at Trask Coliseum.

Talley expanded his game in 2017-18 after being called on to provide additional scoring for the club. He ranked second on the team in scoring (16.6 ppg) and dished out 167 assists while shooting nearly 40 percent from long distance.

The Seahawks and Pride are battling for the 40th time overall and sixth time in the CAA Tournament. UNCW owns a slim 20-19 edge in the series and has taken three of the five matchups in the CAA Tournament, including an 80-73 overtime thriller in the 2016 championship tilt.

Sunday’s clash features six All-CAA performers, including 2018 CAA Player-of-the-Year Justin Wright-Foreman of Hofstra. In addition to Wright-Foreman, Gustys earned Third-Team honors and Jalen Ray captured All-Rookie laurels. Cacok was tabbed First-Team All-CAA and was a repeat selection on the CAA’s All-Defensive Team. Talley collected All-CAA honors for the first time when the Richmond, Va., playmaker was named to the Third-Team.

Seahawk Digital Network (SDN) coverage of the UNCW-Hofstra contest begins at 8:15 p.m. with Mike Vaccaro, the “Voice of the Seahawks,” and Marty Feurer providing the call from Charleston. Visit UNCWsports.com/SDN for live audio coverage. In addition, a radio broadcast of the game may be heard on “The Ticket” 95.9 FM and WKXB (99.9 FM-HD3).

For more information on the UNCW men’s basketball team, visit UNCWsports.com and click on the men’s basketball button. Additional information is also available on UNCW’s social media channels: Facebook (UNCW Men’s Basketball), Twitter (@UNCWmenshoops), Instagram (UNCWBasketball).

CAA Men’s Basketball Championship, presented by Jersey Mike’s Subs
March 3-6, 2018 | North Charleston Coliseum | North Charleston, S.C.

Saturday, March 3 – First Round
G1 – #8 Drexel 70, #9 James Madison 62
G2 – #7 Delaware 86, #10 Elon 79

Sunday, March 4 – Quarterfinals
G3 – #1 College of Charleston vs. #8 Drexel – Noon
G4 – #4 William & Mary vs. #5 Towson – 2:30 p.m.
G5 – #2 Northeastern vs. #7 Delaware – 6 p.m.
G6 – #3 Hofstra vs. #6 UNCW – 8:30 p.m.

Monday, March 5 – Semifinals
G7 – Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4 – 6 p.m.
G8 – Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6 – 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 6 – Championship
G9 – Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8 – 7 p.m.

Categories: Sports

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