TOWSON, Maryland (UNCW news release) - Visiting UNCW stormed back from a 15-point deficit with five minutes left to pull within one possession, but came up short in a 78-74 loss as Towson swept an early-week Colonial Athletic Association series on Tuesday at SECU Arena.
The Tigers won their second straight to improve to 3-5 overall and 2-1 in the CAA. The Seahawks lost their second in a row and stand 6-5 overall and 0-2 in the league heading into a Saturday, Jan. 23, matchup with Delaware’s Blue Hens at Trask Coliseum.
Redshirt senior guard Zane Martin was the big point-producer again for the Tigers, scoring 24 points to go along with 21 on Monday. Sophomore forward Charles Thompson added 17 points, sophomore forward Solomon Uyaelunmo scored 12 and sophomore guard Jason Gibson finished with 10 for Towson, which matched its season high in scoring.
Senior guard Mike Okauru poured in a career-high 25 points and freshman guard Jamahri Harvey bucketed a career-best 21 points for the Seahawks. Sophomore guard Joe Pridgen chipped in 10 points for UNCW.
The Seahawks trailed, 68-53, when Uyaelunmo converted a conventional three-point play, but catapulted back into the game with an 11-0 spurt in a 1:12 stretch. The two teams traded buckets and a pair of free throws by Okauru brought the Seahawks within, 76-74, with 27 seconds showing.
Martin then missed the front end of a bonus situation with 18.7 seconds remaining, but a spinning layup by Pridgen rimmed off with 2.2 seconds on the clock, leaving the Seahawks winless in their first two conference outings following a wild finish to the contest.
“Give a lot of credit to Towson,” said Takayo Siddle, UNCW’s first-year head coach. “We don’t do moral victories. I thought we beat ourselves. Not to discredit Towson, I thought we made too many mistakes in both games. We have to clean up some of the mental errors we’re making.
“We did some good things in the first half, but I didn’t like how we closed out the half. Our energy wasn’t what it needed to be throughout the whole game. I thought it wavered and they took advantage of it. We had to play catch-up in the second half. We did a good job of fighting back and had a chance to tie the game or get it into overtime.”
After forging ahead, 36-32, at halftime, the Seahawks still led 38-36 after Okauru scored on a layup at 18:17. Towson then cranked out a 17-2 run to take command. Sophomore guard Nicholas Timberlake capped the rally with a three-pointer on the right wing to give Towson a 53-40 advantage with 11:18 on the clock.
The Tigers extended the margin to 68-53 – their largest lead of the game – with 4:40 remaining on Uyaelunmo’s free throw, but a string of nine consecutive points by Okauru and a pair of free throws by Pridgen narrowed the deficit to 68-64.
Martin and Thompson, however, teamed up down the stretch, combining for the next eight points, and the Tigers held on for their fifth straight win over the Seahawks.
In the first half, the Seahawks led by 10 points with two minutes left in the period before Martin, who scored 10 points in the first 12 minutes, came alive again to help the Tigers close the gap to 36-32 at the half.
Harvey was the star for the Seahawks in the opening period, scoring 12 points, including the last four points of the half for UNCW. An acrobatic baseline move by the Fayetteville product gave the Seahawks a 36-26 cushion with 2:09 on the clock, but Thompson scored inside and Martin followed with a pair of free throws and a layup with three seconds left as the Tigers scored the final six points of the half.
The Tigers shot 50.9 percent on the day, making 27-of-53 field goals, while the Seahawks finished at 35.9 percent behind 23-of-64 attempts. The two clubs were solid at the free throw line, with Towson making 19-of-21 free throws and UNCW converting 21-of-23 charity tosses.