WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Freshman playmaker Jordon Talley and senior guard Addison Spruill keyed a stifling 22-0 run in the second half as UNCW broke open a close game and completed a sweep of the regular season series with a 58-45 victory over the College of Charleston in men's basketball Wednesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks moved a half-game ahead of Northeastern for second place in the Colonial Athletic Association, raising their record to 14-10 overall and 9-4 in the circuit. William & Mary leads the pack with a 10-3 conference record, while the Huskies carry an 8-4 record into Thursday night's game at Hofstra.
The Cougars fell to 7-19 overall and 2-11 in the CAA. UNCW edged CofC, 58-56, in overtime on Jan. 21 in Charleston.
Talley, from Richmond, Va., paced the Seahawks for the third time this season with 18 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and 9-of-11 at the free throw line. Spruill added 16 points – 12 in the decisive second half – and senior guard Freddie Jackson had 12.
Sophomore guard Joe Chealey scored 12 points and sophomore guard Canyon Barry pitched in 11 for the Cougars, who managed just 17.4 percent shooting after the break on 4-of-23 from the field.
The resilient Seahawks bounced back from a tough 56-53 loss to league-leader William & Mary on Saturday to win their third in a row over the Cougars and hike their home record to 8-2 this season.
"It was a tale of two halves," said Kevin Keatts, UNCW's first-year head coach. "I was not happy at all with our performance in the first half. I thought our energy level was low and we didn't do a good job of coming out with energy and being aggressive.
"We did a tremendous job on the defensive end in the second half. We got stop after stop, we were very aggressive and we got to the free throw line."
The Seahawks trailed by as many as nine points early in the second half and were still behind, 37-32, when senior forward Adjehi Baru connected on a pair of free throws for the Cougars with 13:35 remaining.
But that's when the bottom fell out for the last-place Cougars, who scored just 15 points after the break and finished the game shooting a chilly 27.8 percent.
UNCW scored the next 22 points over a 10:57 stretch as Charleston misfired on 16 consecutive shots. The Cougars did not score again until Baru tipped in a miss with 2:06 left to play.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, poured it on behind Talley and Spruill, who combined for 23 of UNCW's 34 second-half points. Talley staked the Seahawks to their largest lead of the contest, 54-37, with 2:19 remaining before Baru broke the ice for the Cougars.
After Charleston took a 30-24 lead into the break, the Seahawks closed the gap to 35-32 with a mini-run of six points, capped by back-to-back buckets by Cedrick Williams, before Baru's free throws were the last for the Cougars before the stunning drought.
UNCW built an 11-7 advantage with 14:39 left in the first half on a free throw by Talley before the Cougars countered with a 12-2 run, The Seahawks went cold during the stretch, making just one of eight field goal attempts over a 5:30 span, and Charleston capitalized, going in front 19-13 on Cameron Johnson's bank shot at 7:34.
The Seahawks finally evened the score at 21-all on Dylan Sherwood's triple on the right side with 4:32 left in the opening stanza.
Charleston staged a late rally in the period and reeled off nine unanswered points on consecutive treys by Barry, Johnson and Anthony Stitt to regain the lead, 30-21. Spruill's jumper with four seconds on the clock sliced the margin to 30-24 as the first period ended.
The Seahawks wrap up their three-game home stand on Saturday with an 8 p.m. start against CAA preseason favorite Northeastern. The Cougars entertain Towson on Sunday, Feb. 15 in a 12:30 p.m. tip.