WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Sophomore forward Devontae Cacok broke two rebounding records and Colonial Athletic Association frontrunner UNCW matched the school record for home victories with an 87-74 demolition of Drexel before a sellout crowd on Saturday at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks won their eighth consecutive game to improve to 19-2 overall and 8-0 in the CAA. The Dragons lost for the seventh time in eight outings to fall to 7-13 and 1-6.
With the active Cacok dominating on both ends of the floor, the Seahawks placed five men in double figures for the fifth time this season. All five starters also reach double digits for the fourth time in 2016-17.
"It was another great conference game," said Kevin Keatts, UNCW's third-year coach. "When you get off to a good start in the conference, you're going to get everybody's best shot. I give Drexel a lot of credit. The came out with a lot of energy.
"We did a tremendous job on the offensive end and shared the ball on the offensive end. I didn't think we played particularly great as far as shooting the ball, but you've got to find a way to win."
CAA Preseason Player-of-the-Year Chris Flemmings paced the Seahawks with 17 points, followed by senior guard Denzel Ingram with 13 markers, Cacok with 12 points, graduate guard Ambrose Mosley with 11 and sophomore guard C.J. Bryce with 10.
Cacok pulled down a whopping 24 rebounds for his eight double-double of the season, setting a pair of records in the process. He snapped Keith Rendleman’s single game mark of 21 caroms set against Towson on Jan. 2, 2013, and broke the record for most rebounds in a conference game of 22 shared by three players.
Senior forward Rodney Williams also had a double-double – his fourth of the season – with 14 ponts and 10 boards. Junior guard Sammy Mojica paced the Dragons with 15 points, while freshman guard Kurk Lee contributed 13 and junior guard Miles Overton had 10.
The Seahawks, who tied the 1997-98 NIT team for the most home victories in a season, continued their domination in the CAA over the last two years. UNCW has now won 24 of its last 26 games against conference foes dating back to Jan. 9, 2016.
The triumph put the Seahawks, who finished 25-8 one year ago, within reach of their second straight 20-win season and the fourth in the school’s history.
After taking a 43-40 lead at the break, the Seahawks used a 12-0 run midway through the second half to break away from the Dragons before padding their lead down the stretch.
Clinging to a 53-51 edge, Bryce keyed the decisive spurt, scoring six points in the rally, as UNCW flexed its muscles. Cacok’s third dunk of the game capped the run and the lead ballooned to 65-51 with 11:23 left to play.
UNCW’s largest lead of the contest came with 2:39 showing when JaQuel Richmond converted a baseline jumper to increase the margin to 84-64.
The Seahawks opened the game with a long distance attack, launching eight three-point attempts in their first nine field goal tries, but only connecting on two of those shots.
Drexel, meanwhile, capitalized on UNCW’s cold shooting and built a 16-12 edge with a 5-0 mini-run, capped by a bucket on the left side by Overton. The Seahawks made just two of 12 field goal attempts during the spurt.
UNCW then used a 15-5 rally to gain some breathing room. Five different players scored in the run, with a driving layup by freshman guard Jaylen Fornes with 7:27 left in the opening period giving the Seahawks a 27-21 edge. After Austin Williams scored on a layup for the Dragons, Fornes gave the Seahawks their largest lead of the period, 30-27, on a three-pointer on the left wing.
The Seahawks took a 43-40 edge into intermission when Ingram’s three-point bounced off the rim and reserve forward Marcus Bryan scored on a putback with four seconds left on the clock.
The Seahawks head back on the road this week when they travel to Virginia to take on James Madison (Jan. 26) and William & Mary (Jan. 28). UNCW’s next home game is Thursday, Feb. 2, when the College of Charleston visits for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks now lead the all-time series, 16-12, and have won four in a row over the Dragons…Kevin Keatts is 62-24 overall his three seasons on the bench, including 31-4 in home games…Denzel Ingram led all players with seven assists…C.J. Bryce scored all 10 of his points in the second half…The Seahawks had just six turnovers, marking the 10th time this season that the club has committed less than 10 miscues…The Seahawks won the battle of the boards, 45-40…UNCW scored 46 points in the paint…UNCW has 10 games remaining in the season, five at home and five on the road...The game was UNCW's sellout of the season.