Defense leads Seahawks past Huskies - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Defense leads Seahawks past Huskies

WILMINGTON, North Carolina – UNCW held Northeastern to a season-low 45 points, including just one field goal in the final 5:42, to stymie the Huskies, 55-45, in Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball Thursday night at Trask Coliseum.

The resurgent Seahawks won their second straight to improve to 8-19 on the season and 2-10 in the CAA. The Huskies lost for the fourth time in five games and stand 8-18 and 5-7.

Sophomore guard Craig Ponder led the Seahawks in scoring for the second time this season with 11 points. Redshirt sophomore forward Dylan Sherwood continued his late-season push by chipping in 10 points for UNCW, which overcame 36.7 percent shooting with tight defense and opportunistic offense.

Sophomore guard David Walker paced the Huskies with 18 points and junior transfer Scott Eatherton notched his national-best 16th double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds. The 16 caroms also matched his career-best set in a home loss to the College of Charleston back on Jan. 13.

"Our game plan was to play with a lot of energy on the defensive end," said Buzz Peterson, UNCW's fourth-year head coach. "It was an outstanding effort for our guys to hang in there and get another win."

The Huskies were frustrated most of the night by UNCW's zone and switching lineups, finishing 18-of-56 from the floor for just 32.1 percent. The 45 points was the fewest this season for Bill Coen's club, one point less than the team scored in a 49-46 home loss to James Madison on Jan. 29.

UNCW inched out to a 23-20 lead at halftime, but the advantage evaporated early in the second half when NU made five of its first six shots of the period and rattled off nine consecutive points to seize control. A Reggie Spencer layup with 18:31 left kicked off the spurt and Spencer's putback dunk staked the Huskies to a 32-27 lead at 15:19.

But the Seahawks, who employed their five-in, five-out strategy for the second straight game, rallied to even the score at 34-all when Ponder drilled a triple on the left wing at the 12:05 mark.

UNCW remained on top, 38-34, following a 9-0 run before the Huskies used a conventional three-point play by Walker and a three-ball from the sharpshooter on the left wing to regain the lead, 39-38, at 9:32.

NU took a 41-40 edge at 5:39 on Demetrius Pollard's baseline layup before the Seahawks finished with a flurry behind a 12-0 run and a stubborn defense.

Five different players scored as UNCW strung together 12 consecutive points as part of a 15-4 run the rest of the way to gain a split of the regular season series with the Huskies. Pollard's layup with just under six minutes remaining was NU's last field goal before Eatherton converted a layup with 14 seconds left to play.

"I told our kids that the team that played harder would come away with a victory and that was true at the end of the game," said Coen. "Give all the credit to UNCW. Their kids really competed. I think Shane Reybold makes a tremendous difference in their team. He really gives them the toughness around the rim and makes it more challenging for us. He's physical around the rim and prevented us from getting easy buckets all night long."

The Seahawks built on the momentum of Monday's upset of second-place Towson by taking a quick 9-2 lead early in the contest. A pair of free throws by junior forward Cedrick Williams gave UNCW a seven-point advantage at the 15:12 mark.

But after trailing 14-9, the Huskies reeled off six consecutive points to lead for the first time in the contest. Walker's breakaway dunk capped the spurt and the Huskies led, 15-14, at 7:35.

UNCW regained the lead with a triple by Ponder and a putback by Sherwood for a 19-15 edge at 4:45 before taking a 23-20 advantage into intermission.

The Seahawks begin a two-game road trip to wrap up the regular season on Saturday with a Noon pairing at James Madison that will be televised by Comcast SportsNet. The Huskies scoot down to the College of Charleston for a 7 p.m. game against the Cougars.

GAME NOTES: The Seahawks avenged a 79-68 overtime loss on Jan. 8 in Boston….UNCW has four games remaining in the regular season, evenly split between home and road outings… There were 10 lead changes…UNCW defeated NU for the fourth time in six tries at Trask Coliseum…All five UNCW starters each played 22 minutes…Nine Seahawks played at least 15 minutes…Each team had five treys…Senior forward Shane Reybold, who did not play in UNCW's earlier loss to NU, had three blocks…NU leads the all-time series, 8-6, but the two teams have alternated wins and losses the last five games…UNCW won the battle of the boards by a narrow 41-39 margin…Reybold led the Seahawks with nine boards…UNCW's bench outscored their counterparts, 29-2.

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