Sophomore forward Devontae Cacok powered a balanced scoring attack with a career-high points as the UNCW men's basketball team rocketed past Toledo, 102-77, early Sunday at historic Nashville Municipal Auditorium.
The Seahawks finished the three-day event with a 2-1 record and raced to 5-1 on the young season with the win. The Rockets stand 3-4 in 2016-17.
Cacok, the CAA's Player-of-the-Week last week, turned in one of the best games of his young career by hitting 6-of-8 field goals and adding six free throws for his game-high effort. The Riverdale, Ga., product also slammed home five monster dunks and grabbed seven rebounds in the double-digit victory.
Senior guard Chris Flemmings and sophomore guard C.J. Bryce chipped in 14 points apiece and senior guard Denzel Ingram pocketed 12 points. Ingram, who scored 47 points in the event and connected on the game-winner in Saturday's win over Evansville, was named to the All-Tournament team.
Senior guard Jonathan Williams paced four Rockets in double figures with 16 points, while Steve Taylor, Jr., and Taylor Adway collected 13 points apiece.
"I thought we got better every game," said a pleased third-year UNCW Head Coach Kevin Keatts. "We bounced back the last couple days. We saved our best game for last and that shows we're in great shape to be able to play this way on the third day.
"The most impressive thing for me was the tempo of the game. We were able to play fast on both ends. We've been able to play fast offensive and defensively in both halves, but not the whole game."
UNCW broke open a close game by outscoring Toledo, 60-38, in the second half en route to the convincing win. The Seahawks shot 61.1 percent after intermission and led by as many as 28 points in nailing down their fifth win of the campaign.
In the second period, the Seahawks were ahead, 53-47, with 18 minutes remaining before creating separation from the blue-and-gold Mid-American conference team. Flemmings started a 13-2 spurt with a three-pointer from the left corner and a driving layup by Bryce padded the lead to 66-49 with just under 10 minutes left.
UNCW registered its largest lead of the contest with two minutes showing on the clock when freshman guard Matt Elmore sank a pair of free throws for a 96-69 cushion. Elmore, making his collegiate debut, wound up with seven points in six minutes of action.
The Seahawks eclipsed the century mark for the second time this season and the seventh time since Keatts arrived in the Port City. UNCW blitzed NCAA Division II Claflin, 110-64, in the season opener back on Nov. 11 at Trask Coliseum.
UNCW also took care of the ball in a major way against the Rockets. The Seahawks finished with just four turnovers – just two in each half – in an all-around clean performance.
In a see-saw first half that saw five ties and nine lead changes, the Seahawks inched out to a 42-39 lead at intermission after both teams shot well early. Only four points separated the two clubs in the opening 20 minutes.
Ingram scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out five assists to help the Seahawks take the lead at the break. After Steve Taylor sank a triple from the top of the key with 1:36 on the clock, the Seahawks closed out the half by scoring six of the final eight points for a three-point advantage at halftime.
Ingram scored the final six points of the first half for the Seahawks, including a runner at the buzzer that sent UNCW into lockerroom on top of the Rockets.
UNCW returns home briefly before taking on another Mid-American Conference opponent on Wednesday when the Seahawks battle Western Michigan's Broncos in Kalamazoo, Mich. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at WMU's University Arena.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks grabbed a 3-2 lead in the five-game series….UNCW now stands 9-23 against Ohio teams lifetime…Kevin Keatts evened his record at 1-1 against Ohio schools…The Seahawks had 21 assists on 38 baskets….The Seahawks scored 24 points off 18 Toledo turnovers…UNCW went 20-of-28 free throws and seven players stepped to the line…UNCW scored 42 points in the paint...Toledo had a narrow 32-31 rebounding advantage…Both teams shot better than 50 percent in the game: UNCW at 56.7 and Toledo at 52.6.