TOWSON, MARYLAND (UNCW release) - The UNCW men’s basketball team ran into the hottest club in the Colonial Athletic Association on Thursday night and came up short in a 77-66 loss to streaking Towson at SECU Arena outside Baltimore.
The Seahawks had a two-game winning streak stopped and carry a 7-16 overall record and 2-8 conference mark into a Saturday matchup at James Madison. Towson reeled off its CAA-best seventh consecutive victory and maintained a share of second place in the CAA at 13-9 and 7-3.
Senior guard Brian Fobbs anchored four players in double figures for the Tigers with 14 points, followed by senior forward Nakye Sanders with 13 points and sophomore guard Allen Betrand and junior forward Juwan Gray with 10 apiece. Sanders pulled down 11 rebounds to notch his sixth double-double of the campaign.
Sophomore forward Jaylen Sims paced the Seahawks with 16 points, including 9-of-10 at the free throw line. Sophomore forward Marten Linssen added 12 points and seven rebounds and junior guard Ty Gadsden finished with 11.
“We knew offensive rebounding would be a key and it was,” said Rob Burke, UNCW’s interim head coach. “That was the game, plain and simple.
“Give them credit. They’re in a very good rhythm right now. They’re comfortable at home and they’re getting senior leadership. Coach (Pat )Skerry’s got them right where he wants them. He has them rolling at the right time and in good position.”
The Seahawks scored the first bucket of the game – their only lead of the contest – before Towson rode superior outside shooting and a large rebounding average to its seventh home win in 10 tries. The Tigers outrebounded the Seahawks, 42-29, on the night.
The Tigers, picked to finish sixth in the CAA preseason poll, kept a share of second place in the loop with Charleston and Hofstra behind frontrunner William & Mary. The trio stand one game back of the Tribe in the standings.
In Thursday’s tilt, the two teams, opening the second half of the conference schedule, battled through a tight 37 minutes before the Tigers broke away in the final minutes.
Trailing 40-30 at intermission, UNCW came out strong in the final period and scored 12 of the first 16 points to close the gap to two points. A three-pointer by Gadsden with 15:41 remaining brought the Seahawks within 44-42.
But Towson maintained a working margin over next 17 minutes and got key contributions from Fobbs, Sanders and Betrand in the final minutes. The Tigers stretched the lead out to 10 points on two occasions and went up by as many as 12 with one minute remaining.
Towson dialed long distance to grab control in the first half and race out to a 10-point advantage at the break. The Tigers drained 7-of-9 from long distance and shot 50 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.
After sophomore guard Jakigh Dottin gave the Tigers a 13-4 lead with back-to-back triples at the 16-minute mark, the Seahawks trimmed the deficit to one point, 18-17, on a three-pointer by freshman guard Jake Boggs.
Senior forward Dennis Tunstall sank a pair of trifectas in the final four minutes as the Tigers stretched out their margin, including a bomb with 1:48 remaining to give Towson its largest lead of the period, 39-25.
The Seahawks and Dukes go head-to-head on Saturday at 4 p.m. in UNCW’s last appearance at the JMU Convocation Center. The Dukes move into the new Atlantic Union Bank Center in 2020-21.