HEMPSTEAD, New York – Senior guard Chris Flemmings got the Seahawks off to a strong start for the second straight game and sophomore guard C.J. Bryce hit several big buckets down the stretch to propel UNCW past host Hofstra, 83-76, in the club’s Colonial Athletic Association road finale on Saturday at the Mack Sports Complex on Long Island.
The Seahawks (24-5, 13-3) completed a sweep of the regular season series with the Pride after winning the initial meeting by a similar score, 84-76, on Jan. 14 in Wilmington. The Seahawks picked up their fourth CAA sweep by defeating the Pride for the fifth time in the last six meetings.
The Pride (13-16, 5-11) has dropped three of its last four contests heading into a two-game swing to William & Mary and James Madison to close out the regular season.
With two games remaining in the regular campaign, the Seahawks, who have won four of their last five outings, still own a one game lead over second place College of Charleston (21-8, 12-4) in the CAA standings
“I thought both teams played hard and really wanted to win,” said UNCW’s Kevin Keatts. “It was a tough game and both teams wanted to come out with a win. I challenged our guys to be better on the defensive end in the second half.
“We did a very good job of moving the ball around and got them out of their zone. We got a lot balls into the middle of their zone and Chris (Flemmings) made shots. These were two hard fought wins for us on this trip.”
The versatile Flemmings, the CAA’s Preseason Player-of-the-Year, led all scorers in the contest with 26 points, including 18 in the opening 20 minutes. Bryce added 23 points – 16 in the second half – and junior playmaker Jordon Talley contributed 14 off the bench.
Sophomore guard Justin Wright-Foreman paced Hofstra with 26 points and went a perfect 15-for-15 at the free throw line. Freshman guard Eli Pemberton chipped in 17 points, senior guard Deron Powers scored 15 and junior forward Rokas Gustys finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Seahawks bolted out to a 46-38 lead at intermission and led by as many as 11 points with 10 minutes left before holding on to improve to 11-3 on the road this season.
In the second half, Pemberton scored on a putback off Brian Bernardi’s miss to narrow the Seahawk lead to 52-51 with 13:36 left, but the Seahawks answered with 10 straight points to regain control.
Bryce kicked off the rally by slicing through the lane for a layup and Talley drove through the middle for another layup to give the Seahawks their largest lead of the contest, 62-51, at 9:13.
But the Pride wouldn’t go away and responded with a 10-2 run to close the gap to 64-61, capped by a Hunter Sabety free throw at the 5:45 mark.
The Pride was still within striking distance, 77-76, with 47 seconds on the clock following a layup by Gustys, but Flemmings connected on a critical tip-in with 31 ticks left to get the score back to 79-76.
Bernardi then attempted a three-pointer with 9.7 seconds left, but missed the mark and Denzel Ingram was fouled on the rebound. The senior guard from Chapel Hill dropped in both free throws to seal UNCW’s second straight road victory.
Flemmings turned in a big first half for the second consecutive game, exploding for 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting in the opening 20 minutes to power the Seahawks to a 46-38 advantage. He had 20 points in the first half of Thursday’s 66-65 win at Northeastern.
Flemmings got plenty of help in the first half as six different Seahawks scored in a period that featured eight ties and two lead changes.
Bryce scored UNCW’s first five points before Flemmings drained his first trey with 18:15 left to give the Seahawks an 8-2 lead before the Pride responded.
Wright-Foreman, the Pride’s leading scorer, got untracked and converted a layup with just over 10 minutes remaining to knot the score at 19-all.
The Seahawks still led, 36-34, after Bernardi’s three-ball, but Talley finished the first half with a flourish to give the Seahawks an eight-point edge at the break. Talley scored eight points in the final three minutes, including a pretty spin move as time expired in the opening frame.
The Seahawks return to Trask Coliseum to close out the regular season with a pair of games. UNCW entertains Towson on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m., followed by “Senior Day” vs. Northeastern on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Chris Flemmings four assists and six rebounds to fill up the stat sheet…Kevin Keatts stands 5-2 against Hofstra in seven meetings…The Seahawks now stand 8-8 lifetime at the Mack Sports Complex…UNCW leads the all-time series by a 19-18 edge…The Seahawks finished the season with a 7-2 record in CAA road games....HU’s Justin Wright-Foreman was the CAA’s Player-of-the-Week this past week…UNCW has already set a record for regular season victories…UNCW is 6-10 vs. Hofstra in February…The Pride finished 3-6 at home this year…Hofstra shot 56.5 percent in the first half and UNCW connected on 54.1 percent…UNCW had no turnovers in the first half and wound up with just six miscues…Hofstra outscored UNCW by one point, 38-37, in the final period…The two teams combined to sink 40-of-51 free throws on the day.