WILLIAMSBURG, V.A. (WECT) - William & Mary led wire-to-wire to remain unbeaten in conference play with a 79-63 decision over UNCW in the front end of a two-game Colonial Athletic Association road trip for the Seahawks on Thursday night at Kaplan Arena.
The Tribe improved to 12-5 overall and remained one of two unbeaten teams in the CAA at 4-0. The Seahawks dropped their 10th consecutive game and stand 5-13 and 0-5.
UNCW will wrap up its second conference road swing of the season by returning to the Tar Heel
State on Saturday, Jan. 11, to battle Elon at the Schar Center in a 4 p.m. tip.
“They did a good job of adjusting to us double teaming Nathan Knight and Andy Van Vliet,” said C.B. McGrath, UNCW’s third-year head coach. “They made their open looks. We forced some turnovers and we did a nice job of scoring off those turnovers.
“We wanted to attack a little more. We didn’t shoot it great, but we made a few three’s. You have to make your open looks against them.”
Senior center Andy Van Vliet, the lone seven-footer in the CAA, anchored four W&M players in double figures with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Senior forward Nathan Knight added a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds, junior guard Luke Loewe had 14 and graduate guard Bryce Barnes finished with 11.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Sims paced the Seahawks with a game-high 21 points, including 17 in the first half. Junior guard Ty Gadsden added 10 points.
W&M, which had its streak of three straight games shooting better than 50 percent snapped, won its eighth in a row over UNCW at Kaplan Arena by starting fast, holding off several Seahawk runs and increasing its lead to as many as 21 points down the stretch.
Leading 34-29 at halftime, the Tribe scored on a layup by Loewe to open the scoring in the second half and scored 13 of the first 17 points after the break to gain some separation. Knight sank a pair of free throws at 14:51 to put W&M ahead, 47-33, collecting his NCAA-leading 13th double-double of the season.
The Seahawks narrowed the gap to 12 points three times in the final period before the Tribe closed out its fifth home win without a loss. A basket by UNCW’s Mike Okauru at the 5:45 mark of the second half chopped the lead to 63-51.
W&M, which outscored the Seahawks 46-34 in the final period, registered its largest lead, 79-58, when Quinn Blair got loose underneath for a layup with 1:48 left to play.
Sims dominated play at both ends of the floor to keep the Seahawks close early. He poured in 17 points in the 20 minutes on 5-of-9 shooting and 3-of-6 from long distance to help UNCW shake off a sluggish start.
The Seahawks spotted the Tribe a 10-0 lead before Okauru broke the drought with a three-pointer on the right wing at 14:04.
The Seahawks closed to 21-20 with 6:25 left in the first half on Sims’ second triple of the half, but the Tribe scored eight points in the next 67 seconds to extend the margin back to 29-20 with 4:41 on the clock.
UNCW then closed the gap to two points on a pair of Sims free throws, but Loewe sank a three-pointer in front of the UNCW bench with three seconds left on the clock to give the Tribe a 33-29 advantage at the break.
The Tribe shot 44.6 percent on the night after bouncing back from a cold first half with 50 percent shooting after intermission. The Seahawks finished at 35.6 percent from the field.