UNCW Press Release
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Season two in the Kevin Keatts Era is still one of perfection for the UNCW men's basketball team.
The Seahawks won their fifth consecutive game to open the new season behind junior guard Chris Flemmings to race past NCAA Division II Coker, 93-73, on Wednesday at Trask Coliseum. UNCW has now won its first five games by an average of 20.4 points per game.
"We were prepared to play, but started out a little sloppy," said Keatts, who improved to 14-2 at home with Wednesday's decision. "Give Coker a lot of credit. It was a game of two halves. We didn't do a good job of guarding in the first half. In the second half, we made them turn it over for easy baskets. I was pleased with how we finished the game."
Flemmings led the Seahawks with a career-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting and added six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Craig Ponder (12), C.J. Bryce (10), Mark Matthews (10) and Marcus Bryan (10) gave UNCW five players in double figures for the third time this season.
Senior guard Trey Marshall scored 16 points to anchor four players in double figures for Coker. Jalal Abdul-Azeez collected 12 points and Aubrey Daniels contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds and Jalen Watson racked up 10 points and 11 boards.
UNCW carved out a 45-33 lead at the break and extended the margin to as many as 22 points in the final period before registering its fourth double digit victory in five games. With 18 steals, the Seahawks came up just shy of the school record of 19 thefts set against Towson in a 77-65 victory on Jan. 27, 1979.
Ponder, the Seahawks' leading scorer out of Bluefield, W.Va., did set a new school mark with his nine steals, eclipsing the record of eight steals shared by Bobby Martin, Temi Soyebo and Chad Tomko.
After leading 45-33 at halftime, the Seahawks scored 14 of the first 18 points in the final stanza to gain some breathing room. A 12-2 run, keyed by Bryce, gave the Seahawks a 59-37 bulge at 15:17. Bryce had six points in the spurt and Ponder's layup with 15:17 remaining hiked the advantage to 22 points.
Coker fought back, however, and narrowed the deficit to nine points before suffering its second loss in three outings. A 13-2 run by the Cobras sliced the lead to 59-44 and a pair of free throws by Abdul-Azeez pulled Coker to within 66-57 with 8:29 showing.
But the Seahawks, behind Ponder and Flemmings, clamped down and kept the Cobras at the bay the rest of the way. An 11-0 run in the final minutes put the game out of reach for the upset-minded Cobras.
The Cobras capitalized on six early turnovers by the Seahawks to grab a quick lead. A string of three straight buckets gave Coker a 6-2 advantage just four minutes into the contest before the Seahawks took the lead for good.
After Marshall connected on the left wing to give the Cobras a 13-11 edge at 12:36, the Seahawks reeled off 10 unanswered points to take control. Bryce kick started the run with a short jumper and Trey Grundy's layup at 10:38 gave the Seahawks a 21-13 margin.
The Seahawks took a 45-33 lead into intermission after scoring 15 points off 14 turnovers by the Cobras. UNCW had five steals and nine blocks in the opening 20 minutes against the smaller Coker squad.
UNCW now breaks for exams before returning to the floor in a 2:30 p.m. tip-off on Saturday, Dec. 12, against national power Georgetown at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.