OLEAN, New York – Senior guard Denzel Ingram and the streaking UNCW men’s basketball team crashed St. Bonaventure’s 50th anniversary party for the Reilly Center, overcoming a fierce comeback by the Bonnies and a raucous crowd for an 81-80 road victory on a snowy Saturday night in frigid New York.
The Seahawks, 8-1, extended their winning streak to five games and haven’t lost since a five-point defeat vs. Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 26 at the Challenge in Music City.
The Bonnies had their five-game winning streak snapped and stand 6-3 after splitting a pair of games against Colonial Athletic Association opponents in their last two outings.
The bouncy Ingram was the man of the hour for the Seahawks, draining a contested jumper along the left baseline with two seconds left to make Coach Kevin Keatts and his club an impressive 5-1 away from home this season.
“What a tremendous game,” said an exhausted Keatts, who improved to 18-16 on the road in three seasons. “We’re very fortunate to get out of here with a win. I thought our guys did a tremendous job of coming into a hostile environment and staying the course.
“We wanted to be very aggressive on both ends. Denzel made me look like a good coach again tonight. He made a three-pointer after halftime and made another great play at the end. He just raised up and made a great play.”
The Chapel Hill, N.C., product led all scorers in the contest with 19 points and dished out five assists. Sophomore guard C.J. Bryce added 17 points, sophomore guard JaQuel Richmond scored 16 and senior guard Chris Flemmings had 15 for the Seahawks, who canned 13-of-29 triples on the night.
Junior guards Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, SBU’s potent 1-2 punch, paced the Bonnies. Adams, the leading scorer in the Atlantic-10 Conference, closed with 18 points and Mobley scored 17, including 13 in the second half.
in the first meeting between the two high-scoring clubs, the Seahawks used the long ball to forge out to a 40-35 advantage at halftime and held off the Bonnies down the stretch to win for the eighth time in nine games to open the new campaign.
After taking a five-point halftime advantage, 40-35, UNCW bolted out of the chutes in the second half and enjoyed its largest lead of the game, 45-35, on Devontae Cacok’s 26th dunk of the season with 18:35 left to play.
The Bonnies then staged several rallies, closing the deficit to four points on five occasions before getting over the hump in the final minute.
UNCW still led, 73-65, with 5:25 left on the clock, but SBU scored 10 of the next 13 points and narrowed the deficit to 76-75 on a pair of free throws by Adams with 1:41 remaining.
Ingram then responded with his fifth trey, but Denzel Gregg’s slam sliced the lead to 79-77, setting up a conventional three-point play by Adams with 12 ticks left that gave the Bonnies their first lead since 14:28 left in the first half.
But Ingram took the inbounds pass, navigated his way through traffic to the left baseline before silencing 3,976 screaming fans assembled for the non-conference matchup.
In the first half, the Seahawks trailing early before calling on the long ball to overtake the Bonnies and build a five-point advantage at intermission. UNCW drained 8-of-16 attempts behind the arc in the early going and forced seven turnovers by the Bonnies.
After a dunk by Amadi Ikpeze gave the Bonnies an 8-7 edge at the 16:20 mark, the Seahawks reeled off eight unanswered points, capped by a running layup by Richmond that put UNCW ahead, 15-8, with 12:14 left in the first period.
The Seahawks, who maintained their lead the remainder of the half, padded the margin to nine points, 28-19, on a dunk inside by Cacok with just under eight minutes to go in the opening period.
SBU climbed within 34-33 on a triple by David Andoh with just over a minute left in the half before Flemmings answered with a trifecta and Ingram’s three-ball at the buzzer gave the Seahawks their lead at the break. The speedy Ingram led all scorers at the half with 11 points.
The Seahawks continue their pre-Christmas slate with their 102nd game against longtime state foe Campbell at the Pope Convocation Center in Buies Creek, N.C. The Bonnies next play against area rival Niagara on Saturday, Dec. 17, in the Big 4 Classic at the Key Bank Center in Buffalo.
GAME NOTES: UNCW shot 45.3 percent and SBU connected on 50.0 percent from the field…SBU outrebounded the Seahawks, 40-33….Chris Flemmings played all 40 minutes…Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams played all 40 minutes for the Bonnies…SBU dropped in 16-of-19 free throws…The Bonnies lead the Atlantic-10 in scoring…The Seahawks entered the game with an NCAA RPI of No. 13…Jaylen Adams was the eighth leading scorer in the country heading into the contest…Kevin Keatts now stands 4-0 in games played with snowy conditions…The Seahawks are 56-82 against A-10 clubs and 29-24 vs. New York teams through the years.