TOWSON, Maryland – Junior forward William Adala Moto scored 13 of his game-high 20 points at the free throw line and Towson built a big rebounding advantage to hold off UNCW, 76-60, in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball matchup Thursday at SECU Arena.
The Tigers won their fourth contest in five games to improve to 11-5 overall and 2-1 in the CAA. The Seahawks, making their CAA road debut, stand 9-5 and 1-2.
Adala Moto led all scorers by making three buckets and going 13-of-14 at the charity stripe in his first appearance against the Seahawks after transferring from Wake Forest. Sophomore guard Mike Morsell added 17 points and sophomore guard Byron Hawkins had 16 for the Tigers.
Junior guard Denzel Ingram paced the Seahawks with a career-high 18 points, junior guard Chris Flemmings had 10 points for his 12th game in double figures and freshman guard C.J. Bryce also had 10 points.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump offensively,” said Kevin Keatts, UNCW’s second-year head coach. “We didn’t have a good offensive night and we struggled on the defensive end, too.
“Give Towson credit, they out-toughed us. We didn’t make shots and because the ball wouldn’t go in, we struggled.”
The Tigers held the Seahawks to 34.6 percent shooting and a season-low 25 points in the first half and turned back several UNCW runs down the stretch. The Seahawks cut the lead to five points at the nine-minute mark, but the Tigers used a 14-4 spurt to pull away for good.
Towson, the CAA’s top rebounding unit, dominated the glass with a 43-25 advantage and scored 30 points in the paint on the night.
Pat Skerry’s club, which leads the CAA in scoring defense at 65.0 points per game, held the Seahawks to 20-of-61 shooting and a season-low 32.8 percent from the field. UNCW also had its fewest total points this season in 14 outings.
The Seahawks, who trailed 36-25 at intermission, missed their first three shots of the second half while the Tigers converted all three of their field goal attempts and the deficit swelled to 42-25.
But UNCW came alive and outscored the Tigers, 14-4, over a five-minute span to narrow the deficit to seven points. A floater in the paint by sophomore playmaker Jordon Talley with 12:54 left brought the Seahawks within 46-39.
The Tigers responded, however, and raised the margin back to double digits before the Seahawks rallied again. Junior forward Marcus Bryan dropped in a pair of free throws and junior center C.J. Gettys converted a conventional three-point play to narrow the score to 54-49 with nine minutes remaining.
Towson used a 16-4 run, keyed by Adala Moto and Morsell, to stretch the margin back to 17 points and then used solid free throw shooting to seal the victory. The Tigers went 13-for-14 at the free throw line in the final nine minutes and wound up making 29-of-36 for 80.6 percent on the night.
Bryce opened the game with a jumper on the right baseline for UNCW’s only lead of the contest, but the Tigers scored 17 of the next 19 points to build a comfortable margin in the early going. Timajh Parker-Rivera capped a 9-0 run on the back of the spurt with a layup at 12:55 to put the Tigers ahead, 17-4.
The Seahawks made four straight free throws late in the period – two each by Bryce and Flemmings – to pull within eight points, 30-22, at 2:24, but the Tigers answered with six straight to get the lead back to 36-22 on Morsell’s driving layup with just under a minute to play.
Ingram helped the Seahawks, who just 34.6 percent in the opening 20 minutes, close the gap to 36-25 at intermission when he banked in a 30-footer at the buzzer.
The Seahawks move over to Newark, Dela., to play Delaware on Saturday in a 7 p.m. tip at the Bob Carpenter Center. The Tigers travel to James Madison on Saturday to take on the Dukes in a 4 p.m. start at the JMU Convocation Center.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks still own a 19-14 advantage in the 33-game series with the Tigers…UNCW now stands 1-2 at SECU Arena…UNCW is 10-7 against Towson in January…The Seahawks are 5-5 in CAA road games under Keatts over two seasons…UNCW has had a season-low seven turnovers in each of its last two contests…UNCW went 5-of-22 from long distance and Towson finished with 5-of-10 from deep…Towson had 16 assists on 21 baskets…The Seahawks trailed by as many as 18 points…The Tigers scored 16 second-chance points.