WASHINGTON, D.C. (UNCW release) - Sophomore guard Tre Gomillion’s putback with 11 seconds remaining lifted Cleveland State past UNCW, 47-46, in the opening game of the Battle for the Capital tournament early Friday at the DC Entertainment and Sports Arena.
The Vikings, 2-4, took the first series meeting between the two schools in the arena that will host the 2020 CAA Men’s Basketball Championship in March. The Seahawks stand 3-3 on the new season.
UNCW plays its second game in as many days on Saturday when the Seahawks take on Florida International in another 1 p.m. start. The Seahawks then conclude the tournament with another on campus matchup on Tuesday vs. Emory & Henry at Trask Coliseum.
Freshman guard Jake Boggs, making his first career start, was the lone Seahawk in double figures with 11 points.
Junior forward Algevon Eichelberger of CSU led all scorers with a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds. Junior guard Craig Beaudion added 10 points off the bench for the Vikings.
“The tougher team won today,” said third-year UNCW Head Coach C.B. McGrath. “They were physical from the get-go. They kept on attacking. We did a good job of battling and getting back into the game and took some leads. In the end, we couldn’t secure the rebound when we had the one-point lead.”
The shorthanded Seahawks struggled offensively throughout the day, shooting just 27.3 percent from the floor, including 3-for-13 behind the three-point arc. CSU didn’t fare much better, connecting on 37 percent from the field.
After leading at the break, 23-22, UNCW was still in front, 44-40, with just over four minutes left until the Vikings surged at the end. CSU dropped in three free throws to slice the lead to one point, 44-43, but Seahawk sophomore guard Brian Tolefree responded with a pair of free throws with 1:34 on the clock to get the Seahawk margin back to three points.
But Eichelberger scored on a dunk with 1:09 left and after a key steal, Gomillion followed up a miss with his timely bucket under the iron to give the Vikings the lead for good. UNCW’s game-winning field goal attempt was errant with one second remaining. After gaining possession on a loose rebound, the Seahawks could not get the ball inbounds for a last-ditch attempt.
The Seahawks carved out an early 17-10 advantage before the Vikings caught up with 12 unanswered points midway through the first period. Trailing by seven points, CSU outscored UNCW 12-0 over a 3:40 stretch when the Seahawks went 1-for-11 from the floor during a cold spell.
The Seahawks regrouped to finish out the opening period strong. Boggs scored back-to-back buckets as UNCW scored the final six points of the first half and held the Vikings scoreless over the last 5:30 of the first 20 minutes.