UNCW employed a balanced attack with five players in double figures to deliver C.B. McGrath his first conference coaching victory in a 107-87 blistering of visiting Drexel in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball contest Tuesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks, concluding a three-game homestand, evened their CAA record at 1-1 and improved to 4-10 on the season. The Dragons suffered their third straight loss and fell to 6-9 and dropped to 0-2 in the loop.
UNCW torched the nets for a season-best 58.7 percent and scored a season-high 107 points, cracking the century mark for the third time and the second time in three outings. It was UNCW’s fifth straight win over the Philadelphia-based club.
The Seahawks featured three players with 20+ points, topped by senior guard Jordon Talley’s career-high tying 24 points. Junior forward Devontae Cacok, the nation’s second leading rebounder, finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds – his 10th double-double of the season – and sophomore guard Jaylen Fornes contributed 21. Redshirt sophomore guard Ty Taylor collected 17 points and freshman guard Jeff Gary had 11 points to round out the five in double digits.
Talley has now scored 995 points in 107 career appearances and needs just five points to become the program’s 24th 1,000-point scorer.
Sophomore guard Kurk Lee and junior guard Troy Harper paced four Dragons in double figures with 22 and 21 points. Sophomore forward Alihan Demir collected 16 points and senior guard Miles Overton finished with 12 for Drexel, which shot 51.6 percent.
“We had 14 assists on 19 baskets in the first half and I thought we were playing very unselfish,” said McGrath. “We got a lot of shots at the basket in the second half. We had spurts where we got some stops tonight.
“At shootaround, I told the guys that as cold as it is today, we’re going to be hot inside tonight…and it worked out.”
The two teams, wrapping up the opening week of conference play, each needed a win to avoid starting the CAA season at 0-2 and the Seahawks answered the call. UNCW used a 16-2 run midway through the first half to seize control and then kept the lead at double digits throughout the second half.
UNCW raced out to a 57-40 cushion at the break – matching their season high for first-half production and scoring more points than in the previous game vs. Delaware – and led by as many as 22 points in the second half.
The Seahawks reached their largest lead of the contest with 16:58 to go when Taylor converted a pair of free throws for a 69-47 advantage. The Dragons sliced the deficit to 13 points twice in the final period, but couldn’t get closer as the Seahawks rolled in the final minutes.
The Seahawks grabbed control early in the contest and led, 17-15, after senior forward Austin Williams slammed one home for the Dragons at 13:45.
UNCW then went on a 16-2 tear over a 4:56 stretch to gain separation and break the game open. Five different Seahawks scored in a 9-0 run to get the spurt started and after Williams banked in a shot, the Seahawks reeled off seven more points for a 33-17 bulge.
The lead swelled to 20 points with 2:41 left in the first half when Cacok scored on a layup and the Seahawks took a 57-40 cushion into the break after Taylor canned a jumper with just two seconds on the clock.
The Seahawks play four of their next five games away from Wilmington, beginning with a 7 p.m. tip-off on Friday vs. Towson at SECU Arena. The Dragons return home for a 7 p.m. test against CAA preseason favorite College of Charleston on Friday at the Daskalakis Center.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks are now 18-12 lifetime against the Dragons…Drexel’s last win in Wilmington came on Jan. 18, 2014…UNCW has won four in a row vs. DU at Trask Coliseum…Jordon Talley led all players with six assists…The Seahawks went 26-of-34 at the free throw line…There was only one lead change in the game…UNCW dominated the boards, outrebounding Drexel, 43-24…UNCW improved to 4-2 at home…The Dragons are 2-8 away from home…DU’s Troy Harper set a Drexel record by hitting his first three free throws for 36 in a row before missing…Jeff Gary reached double figures in scoring for the third time in his career.