NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Denzel Ingram has shown a penchant for big shots in his two seasons with the UNCW men’s basketball team and the senior guard from Chapel Hill added another chapter to the list on the second day of the Challenge In Music City late Saturday at historic Nashville Municipal Auditorium.
The springy Ingram drained a 23-footer as time expired to lift the Seahawks past Evansville, 65-62, to give Coach Kevin Keatts and his club a split in their first two games of the four-team tournament. UNCW wraps up the weekend on Sunday with a 4 p.m. clash against Toledo of the Mid-American Conference.
The Seahawks improved to 4-1 on the young season with the dramatic win. The Purple Aces fell to 2-3.
“What a great game for us tonight,” said Keatts. “We wanted to space it out and get the ball into Denzel’s hands. I thought he did a great job. He drove it, the guy backed off and he raised up and made a great play.”
Senior guard Chris Flemmings tied for game-high scoring honors with 18 points, including 15 in the second half when the Seahawks stormed back from a 10-point deficit. Ingram finished with 16 points, three rebounds and five assists and sophomore guard C.J. Bryce had 15 and seven rebounds.
Sophomore guard Ryan Taylor paced the Purple Aces with 18 points and Willie Wiley and Jaylon Brown contributed 15 and 12.
In the first meeting between the Seahawks and Purple Aces, Evansville grabbed a 32-29 edge at intermission and led by as many as 10 points midway through the final period until the Seahawks caught up with the Purple Aces.
Evansville appeared to be in the driver’s seat with 5.7 seconds left, but junior guard Duane Gibson turned the ball over near the top of the key, giving the Seahawks a chance to win it in regulation. Keatts then called timeout and Ingram did the rest, dribbling to the right side of the court and launching his game-winner to set off a wild celebration on the Seahawk bench.
“The play was designed for me to go to the rim and time was going down," said Ingram. "I just wanted to get the last shot. I got into my little hot spot and took the shot.”
Evansville was in control for most of the second half before the Seahawks took a 53-52 edge at the nine-minute mark on a trey by Flemmings. But Evansville answered and regained the lead, 62-60, on a free throw by Brown with 1:14 remaining.
Flemmings then collected a mishandled ball near the midcourt by the Purple Aces and glided in for a layup with 32 ticks left before Evansville turned the ball over on its next possession. Ingram then provided the heroics as the Seahawks bounced back from a difficult 68-63 loss on Friday to Middle Tennessee State.
The first half featured six lead changes before the Purple Aces wound up shooting 53.8 percent in the opening stanza to grab a three-point edge at the break. The Seahawks managed just 37 percent in the first frame.
After Ingram drained a triple from the top of the key to stake the Seahawks to a 12-10 advantage with 13 minutes left in the first half, the Purple Aces took control and led by as many as seven points in the first period.
Taylor canned 7-of-12 shots for 14 points in the opening stanza, including a putback at the eight-minute mark that fueled a six-point spurt that resulted in Evansville’s largest lead of the half, 25-18. Gibson converted both ends of a bonus situation as the Purple Aces led by seven points.
A nifty layup by Bryce sliced the lead to two points, 29-27, with 44 ticks on the clock before Wiley’s layup with one second left resulted in a three-point lead for Evansville at halftime.
The Seahawks play their final game in the three-day affair on Sunday at 4 p.m. when they take on Toledo. Evansville wraps up the tournament with a 6 p.m. test vs. Middle Tennessee State.
GAME NOTES: Evansville shot 49.1 percent from the floor and UNCW finished at 41.2 percent…UNCW outscored Evansville 30-3 from three-point range…The Purple Aces had five more field goals than the Seahawks…Ingram played 39 of the possible 40 minutes…The final margin of three points was the largest lead of the game for UNCW…Evansville scored 28 of its 62 points in the paint…The Seahawks are now 4-5 vs. Indiana opponents through the years…UNCW is also 7-8 vs. teams from the Missouri Valley Conference.
Challenge In Music City Schedule/Results – Nov. 25-27, 2016
Date Matchup Time
11-25-16 Toledo 83, Evansville 79, 2OT
11-25-16 Middle Tennessee 68, UNCW 63
11-26-16 UNCW 65, Evansville 62
11-26-16 Toledo vs. Middle Tennessee State 8:30 p.m.
11-27-16 Toledo vs. UNCW 4:00 p.m.
11-27-16 Middle Tennessee State vs. Evansville 6:30 p.m.