WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Junior guard Chris Flemmings poured in 25 points and UNCW bucketed 30 points off College of Charleston turnovers to scoot past the Cougars, 65-55, before a sellout crowd on Saturday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks, 16-5 and 8-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association, won their seventh consecutive game - their longest streak of the season - and maintained a share of first place in the CAA with Hofstra, which defeated Drexel, 70-64, earlier in the day in Philadelphia, Pa.
UNCW’s seven-game streak is the longest since the Seahawks reeled off eight consecutive wins to wrap up the regular season in 2005-06. It was the first sellout since a 99-85 victory over James Madison on Feb. 9, 2008, and the 47th full house since Trask Coliseum opened on Nov. 26, 1977.
“We knew Charleston was a great defensive team and we had to work for everything we got,” UNCW second-year Coach Kevin Keatts said of the CAA’s top defensive unit. “Our guys accepted the challenge. We wanted to score in our offense and get out in transition. I knew they were never going away.”
The versatile Flemmings made 9-of-15 field goals and drained 4-of-9 behind the arc to lead the Seahawks in scoring for the 13th time this season. He went over the 20-point plateau for the third straight game and fifth time this season and reached double figures for the 19th time in 21 games.
Junior guard Denzel Ingram chipped in 13 points and freshman backcourt mate C.J. Bryce added 10 for the Seahawks, who led by as many as 16 points late in the game. Junior center led all players with nine rebounds and pitched in four blocks.
Rookie guard Marquise Pointer paced three Cougars in double figures with 17 points. Freshman forward Jarrell Brantley had 15 and seven rebounds and sophomore guard Cameron Johnson scored 10.
The red-hot Seahawks jumped ahead, 37-29, at halftime behind a 16-point first period from Flemmings and used a 13-0 run midway through the second half to break away from their CAA neighbors from the south.
Brantley scored on the last of three slams at 11:15 to bring the Cougars to within 45-41 when the Seahawks seized control and capitalized on a six-minute scoring drought by CofC.
Seahawk reserve forward Dylan Sherwood scored on a bank shot to start the rally and Flemmings had seven points in the string, including a conventional three-point play that hiked the margin to 56-41 with 6:04 on the clock.
The Seahawks registered their largest lead of the game, 62-46, with 3:08 remaining when Chuck Ogbodo made the first of two free throws.
“We turned the ball over too much and they were able to open up the game,” said Earl Grant, Charleston’s second-year coach. “Eleven turnovers in the first half were way too many. We take care of the ball about 95 percent of the time and I didn’t expect this.”
After trading buckets with the Cougars early, the Seahawks rode the hot hand of Flemmings to forge out to a 37-28 lead at halftime. The Cary, N.C., product sank 5-of-8 field goal attempts, including 4-of-7 from deep, to deliver a nine-point lead at the break.
The two teams dialed long distance in the early going, combining for 8-of-13 behind the arc in the opening nine minutes.
Flemmings drained three consecutive triples to give the Seahawks an 11-8 advantage at 14:48 and Ingram connected on both ends of a bonus situation to give UNCW a 22-18 edge with just under six minutes remaining in the first half.
After Brantley converted a bank shot to narrow the deficit to 22-20, the Seahawks used a 13-2 spurt to gain some breathing room. A layup and free throw by Bryce capped the rally with 1:43 to go in the first half and the lead grew to 13 points, 35-22.
The Seahawks embark on a two-game swing to the Northeast on Thursday when they take on Hofstra in a 7 p.m. tip-off in Hempstead, N.Y. The Cougars open a three-game home string on Thursday against Towson at 7:30 p.m. at TD Arena.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks are 9-1 at home this season…Kevin Keatts stands 11-3 in home games since taking over the program last year…The two teams did not miss a free throw in the first half, going a combined 13-for-13 at the charity stripe…Each team had 18 turnovers…The Seahawks won the rebounding battle, 32-29…Charleston had 12 steals…Four Seahawks have five or more rebounds…The Seahawks had 10 assists on 21 baskets…Each team had six three-pointers…Second-year CofC Head Coach Earl Grant is 0-4 against the Seahawks…UNCW leads the all-time series against CofC, 12-7.