UNCW wins RCBI Championship in double-overtime thriller 96-90 over MTSU
Seahawks overcome Middle Tennessee State for first post-season title
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (WECT) - The UNCW Seahawks will return home as champions of the 2022 Roman College Basketball Invitational tournament. The ninth-seeded Seahawks went into double-overtime and hit several key free throws down the stretch to defeat second-seeded Middle Tennessee State 96-90 in the championship game Wednesday evening in Daytona Beach, Florida.
UNCW finishes the season at 27-9, after setting a school record by playing in its 36th game. Coach Takayo Siddle’s team advanced deeper into March than ever before, after wins over Virginia Military Institute (93-78), Drake (76-75) and Northern Colorado (80-64) in the 16-team event. The Blue Raiders out of Conference USA finish at 26-11.
The Seahawks overcame an early seven-point deficit to take a first-half lead, but went into halftime down four to the second-seeded Blue Raiders. MTSU stretched the lead to as many as eleven points at the 12:33 mark, 50-39, and led by seven with less than 5:00 to play. But as they have all season, Siddle’s squad battled back, getting to within a point on a Jaylen Fornes three-pointer with just :08 left, 69-68. After Donovan Sims made one of two free-throws a second later to make the lead 70-68, the Blue Raiders fouled UNCW’s Jaylen Sims with a second to go. Sims made both shots to send the game into the overtime.
UNCW took the early lead in the extra period, with most points coming from the free-throw line. The Seahawks had an 81-78 lead with :16 remaining. But this time it was MTSU battling from behind, with a three-pointer from Donovan Sims knotting the game at 81-all and forcing double overtime.
The lead went back and forth in the second extra period, with both teams leading by two at some point in the battle. Mike Okauru’s free throw put the Seahawks up 89-88 with :28 to play. Jaylen Sims grabbed Okauru’s missed second shot to keep UNCW with possession. Jamarii Thomas then hit a pair of free throws to put UNCW ahead 91-88. MTSU’s Tyler Millin made two to make it a one-point game with :06 on the clock. But the Blue Raiders were called for an intentional foul, giving UNCW two free throws and the ball. Khadim Samb hit one, then hit two more after being fouled on the in-bounds play for a four-point cushion at 94-90.
Jaylen Sims and Okauru each finished with 28 points for the Seahawks. Sims went 14-15 from the free throw line, and Okauru finished at 10-12. Fornes added 19, including a trio of three-pointers. Donovan Sims had 27 for MTSU.
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