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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

UNCW Falls to Tar Heels 69-56

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Chapel Hill, NC – Top-ranked North Carolina built a working margin and withstood several runs by 2022 College Basketball Invitational champion UNCW for a 69-56 victory in the season opener for both teams late Monday at the Dean E. Smith Center.

The Seahawks, playing the first of nine games in the opening month of the new season, return to the coast to entertain Allen on Friday in the home opener at Trask Coliseum. Tip is set for 7 p.m. against the Yellow Jackets.

Sophomore guard Trazarien White led the way with a game-high 19 points for the Seahawks, who went 27-9 last season. The total was just two off his career high of 21 set last December vs. Mount Olive. Senior guard Shykeim Phillips and junior guard Donovan Newby chipped in 11 and 10 points.

The guard tandem of Caleb Love and RJ Davis paced North Carolina with 17 points apiece. Senior forward Armando Bacot added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Tar Heels, who shot 45.8 percent on the night.

“We don’t do moral victories, but I was very proud of how hard our guys fought,” said Takayo Siddle, UNCW’s third-year head coach. “There are some things we need to clean up. Down the stretch, I thought we got loose a little bit. We have a lot to be proud of and a lot to build on.”

The Seahawks, who shot just 29.3 percent from the field, converted 18-fo-24 free throws and outrebounded the Tar Heels, 37-32, on the glass.

After carving out a 32-21 advantage at the break, the Tar Heels led by as many as 16 points early in the final period before the Seahawks narrowed the deficit to 10. North Carolina then held off the Seahawks with several key baskets and clutch free throw shooting down the stretch.

Trailing, 41-25, after a bucket in traffic by Bacot, the Seahawks strung together six consecutive points, capped by a conventional three-point play by White that closed the gap to 41-31. The Seahawks then whittled the lead down to eight, 43-35, when White converted both ends of a bonus situation at 10:30.

Freshman guard Seth Trimble came off the bench, however, to give the Tar Heels a spark and North Carolina scored eight of the next 10 points to get the margin back to 51-37. Trimble had four points in the spurt for the hosts. The lead then ballooned to 16 points until the Seahawks chopped away again to get the deficit down to 63-54 with just over a minute remaining.

North Carolina’s four assists represented the fewest by a Tar Heel team since a 1980 NCAA matchup with Texas A&M. UNCW’s three assists was the fewest by a North Carolina opponent since three by Kentucky on Dec. 8, 1975.

The contest was one of 10 Monday night games for CAA teams to kick off the new season.

Source: Joe Browning, UNCW Senior Associate A.D.

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