WILMINGTON, North Carolina – The UNCW men’s basketball team celebrated Kevin Keatts’ 50th NCAA Division I victory in smashing fashion early Saturday, setting nine new school records in a memorable 126-113 triumph over pesky NCAA Division II Pfeiffer at Trask Coliseum.
Senior guard Chris Flemmings and sophomore forward Devontae Cacok each poured in career-highs of 34 points and sophomore guard C.J. Bryce added 25 points for the Seahawks, who won their fourth straight game to improve to 7-1 this season. The Falcons of Conference Carolinas lost for the first time in seven outings, but the contest was considered an exhibition game for the Misenheimer, N.C., club.
“We came first today in a track meet,” said Keatts, who owns a 50-23 record in three seasons at UNCW. “When you watch those guys on tape, you respect how good and how fast they are. I knew we had a very good, explosive basketball team coming here. They make you play fast. I told everybody before the game that this was going to be a big-time track meet and we certainly we’re glad we could win the gold medal today.
“It’s a unique style that you hate to play against. I’m just glad I’m not in their conference and have to play them twice.”
Flemmings scored 19 of his 34 points in the second half when the Seahawks created some breathing room from the Falcons and registered his ninth career double-double. Cacok also collected a double-double with 19 rebounds, just two shy of the school record. Junior playmaker Jordon Talley also added 18 points to give the Seahawks four in double figures.
Senior guard A.J. Clark paced five Falcons in double figures with 27 points. He was complemented by senior guard Mike Smith (23), sophomore forward Sae’Quahn Rogers (18), senior forward Keith Jumper (12) and senior guard Andrew Guerrero (12).
The Seahawks wound up setting school records for most points (126), most points in Trask Coliseum (126), most combined points (239), most points in a half (65), most dunks (Cacok/11), most team dunks (14), most combined fouls (62) and first time two players scored 30+ points (Flemmings/Cacok).
Cacok enjoyed the most productive offensive performance of his career with his 11 dunks and an assortment of moves around the bucket. He wound up hitting 16-of-17 shots and had a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds at halftime. In addition, he moved into second on the all-time dunk list at UNCW with 44 slams.
Trailing 65-57 at intermission, the Falcons narrowed the margin to 70-64 on a three-pointer by Brendan Jones with 17:28 remaining, but it was the closest Pfeiffer could come to the Seahawks, who shot 63.3 percent in the second half.
UNCW connected on 42-of-70 field goals for 60 percent on the day, including 32 assists, topped by Denzel Ingram’s career-high tying 10 dimes.
The Seahawks, behind Cacok, shot 57.5 percent in the opening 20 minutes to carve out a 65-57 lead over the smaller Falcons and led by as many as 19 points in the second half before closing out the third win at home in as many tries.
In a frenetic first half, the Seahawks were challenged early by the smaller Falcons and took a 65-57 advantage into the break on a Flemmings three-ball from the right corner with two seconds on the clock. The 65 points eclipsed the school record for points scored in a half set on Nov. 22, 2014, in a 110-93 win at VMI.
The Falcons led by as many as five points in the opening period after Clark dropped in a trey from the top of the key, giving Pfeiffer a 9-4 edge just 1:56 into the contest.
Pfeiffer stayed right with the Seahawks throughout the first half before falling behind, 46-39, when UNCW pieced together an 8-0 run. But the Falcons sliced the margin to 53-50 with seven consecutive points, capped by a pair of free throws by Smith at 2:15.
Flemmings scored the final five points of the half, however, including a dunk and his triple that gave the Seahawks an eight-point lead at halftime.
The Seahawks take a break to complete final exams before returning to the floor next Saturday, Dec. 10, to play St. Bonaventure in Olean, N.Y.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks featured three players with more than 20 points for the first time since Nov. 22, 2014…Pfeiffer scored 62 points in the paint and UNCW had 60 in the lane…There were 10 ties and seven lead changes…Three Seahawks – JaQuel Richmond, Jordon Talley and Jaylen Fornes – fouled out…The Falcons had just eight assists on 38 baskets…UNCW went 32-of-49 at the free throw line…Pfeiffer came up with 15 steals…UNCW won its 10th in a row over a non-Division I opponent and moved to 41-7 all-time against non-DI foes…Kevin Keatts improved to 11-0 against non-conference opponents at Trask Coliseum…Keatts is now 25-4 at home in three seasons.