UNCW Press Release
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – Freshman guard C.J. Bryce anchored five players in double figures with a career-high 17 points as UNCW skinned Utah Valley’s Wolverines, 102-77, in the opening game of Louisville’s 14th Billy Minardi Classic on Tuesday at the KFC Yum! Center.
The Seahawks improved to 6-3 after erupting for a season-high 55 points in the first half and registering their most lopsided win since a 101-62 thumping of Milligan in the season opener 39 days ago at Trask Coliseum.
UVU, out of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and playing its 12th season of NCAA Division I basketball, had its two-game winning streak snapped and stands 5-7 this season.
“We started off slowly because we lost some of their guys early,” said second-year UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts, “but our guys ended up playing well on both ends of the floor tonight.
“It was a team effort. We wanted to establish our offensive game from the inside out, and I was very impressed with our rebounding. The result was not only important because we won, but because some guys got some game experience.”
Bryce, the only Seahawk to start all nine contests, showed he’s game tested, making 6-of-10 shots for his career-best total and grabbing a career-high seven rebounds. Redshirt senior guard Craig Ponder and freshman guard Mark Matthews added 15 points apiece, redshirt junior guard Denzel Ingram contributed 14 and redshirt junior guard Chris Flemmings collected 12 points and a game-high eight boards.
The Seahawks pulled down 50 rebounds for the first time since snaring 52 caroms in a 72-55 home victory over Campbellsville on Nov. 26, 2013. Five different players had at least five boards in Tuesday’s convincing win.
UVU senior guard Jaden Jackson matched Bryce’s game-high total of 17 points and senior forward Darrious Hamilton had 11 off the bench for the Wolverines.
The Seahawks, making their second straight appearance in the tournament, trailed early before building a 19-point lead at halftime and cruising to their sixth victory of the season.
In the inaugural meeting between the two teams, the Seahawks used 52.5 percent shooting in the first half to carve out a 55-36 advantage at halftime and poured it on down the stretch. Overall, 13 players saw action and 12 scored for the Seahawks, who wound up shooting 49.4 percent on 38-of-77 field goals.
Matthews opened the second half with a driving layup and sophomore playmaker Jordon Talley followed with a three-pointer to extend the margin to 58-36 just one minute into the final period.
The Seahawks recorded their largest lead of the game, 93-58, when Matthews drained his second triple of the season for a 38-point bulge with 5:18 remaining.
The sharp-shooting Jackson was hot early for the Wolverines, connecting on a pair of triples in the first five minutes, and his two free throws at 15:29 staked UVU a 15-8 lead.
The Seahawks were still behind, 17-12, when Ponder, who scored eight of the team’s first 15 points, kickstarted a 10-2 spurt to help the Seahawks gain control.
Ingram scored on a putback to tie the game at 17-all and Dylan Sherwood drained a trifecta in front of the UVU bench at the 10-minute mark to give the Seahawks the lead for good, 22-19.
Ingram converted both ends of a bonus situation to push the margin to 42-29 at 3:42 and the Seahawks grabbed their largest lead of the half, 55-36, on a layup by Matthews with 38 seconds left in the period.
Three Seahawks reached double figures in the opening half as Ingram (12), Ponder (11) and Flemmings (10) keyed the team in the first stanza.
The Seahawks conclude their pre-Christmas schedule on Wednesday with a 4:15 p.m. tip-off against Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) in another first-time meeting between both clubs. The Wolverines take on host Louisville in Wednesday’s finale at 7 p.m.
GAME NOTES: The Billy Minardi Classic originated in 2002 to honor the memory of Billy Minardi, brother-in-law of Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino, who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center…Chris Flemmings and Denzel Ingram led the Seahawks in assists with four apiece…UVU had just one steal and two blocks…UNCW matched its season low with eight turnovers…The Seahawks went 6-of-23 behind the arc…UNCW pulled down a season-high 18 offensive rebounds…Five different Seahawks made a three-pointer on the night…The Seahawks shot a season-best 80 percent at the free throw line, converting 20-of-25 charity tosses.