The Seahawks improved to 2-0 and close out their season-opening three-game home stand on Saturday when Western Michigan visits for a 7 p.m. tip. UNCW led wire-to-wire against the Colonels to win its first two contests for the first time since the beginning of the 2008-09 campaign.
EKU had its record evened at 1-1 after losing the team's road opener. Coach Dan McHale's club opened the season with a 107-80 decision over Coppin State.
"I'm excited because we did some really good things tonight," said second-year UNCW Head Coach Kevin Keatts. "They have a very good basketball team, so we wanted to make sure we defended well. We wanted to turn them into more of an individual team. I was very happy with our effort.
"We did a tremendous job coming out strong in the first part of the game. They have some weapons, but we limited their touches. Dylan (Sherwood) was the MVP of the game. He had a great night."
Ponder and Sherwood were complemented in the scoring column by junior transfer Denzel Ingram, who contributed 15 points and four assists in his first appearance of the season. Junior center Chuck Ogbodo added seven points, nine rebounds and four blocks in 17 minutes.
Senior forward Jarelle Reischel anchored three EKU players in double figures with a double-double of 17 points and 13 boards. Junior guard Javontae Hawkins scored 16 points and freshman forward Nick Mayo had 12 points – all in the second half – for the Colonels.
UNCW bolted out to a 38-27 lead at halftime behind Sherwood's inspired play and extended the margin to 14 points early in the second stanza before the Colonels cut into the lead.
After Ponder's jumper on the right elbow staked the Seahawks to a 47-33 edge at the 17:22 mark, EKU sliced the advantage to seven points. Mayo, who scored 10 of EKU's first 13 points in the second period, connected on a driving layup to bring the Colonels within 47-40 at 14:53.
But the Seahawks reeled off eight unanswered points to get the cushion back to 15 points when Sherwood's second triple of the game gave UNCW a 55-40 bulge with 13:42 showing.
UNCW registered it largest lead of the night, 78-57, with 37 seconds left when Ingram dropped in a pair of free throws.
The two teams came out cold in the early minutes, going a combined 1-for-11 from the floor before the Seahawks inched out to a 7-2 lead. EKU did not have a field goal until 9:08 minutes into the contest when Reischel converted a bank shot along the right side.
While the Colonels were going 3-for-16 to open the game, the Seahawks built a 19-10 margin on Ponder's nifty shot over Mayo with 8:46 remaining in the first period.
The margin swelled to 11 points, 31-20, with 3:48 left in the first half when Sherwood rose up in traffic to score on a tip-in from close range. Sherwood led all scorers with 13 points in the first half and Ingram contributed 11.
The Seahawks capitalized on EKU's shooting woes to build a 38-27 advantage at intermission. The Colonels shot just 30.8 percent in the first 20 minutes and had 10 turnovers to fall behind at the break.