Wilmington, NC – UNCW sped out to a 22-point advantage after 33 minutes and withstood a late High Point rally to claim its eighth straight men’s basketball victory, 85-82, early Sunday at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks hiked their record to 9-3 with the win heading into Wednesday’s non-conference finale at Campbell. UNCW finished its home non-conference schedule with an unblemished 5-0 record, the best mark since going 5-0 in 2016-17.
The high-octane Panthers, who average 85.4 points per game, stand 8-3 on the season. HPU never led in Sunday’s contest.
Sophomore guard Trazarien White anchored five players in double figures for the Seahawks with 19 points, including several key buckets down the stretch. Senior guard Shykeim Phillips and freshman guard Noah Ross added 15 points apiece, senior guard Maleeck Harden-Hayes chipped in 11 and junior guard Jahmari Harvey added 10.
HPU junior guard Jaden House poured in 25 points to top all scorers. Redshirt sophomore guard Abdoulaye Thiam scored all 18 of his points in the second half for the Panthers.
“A win is a win,” said Takayo Siddle, UNCW’s third-year head coach. “You better be excited about it, take it and enjoy it. It’s hard to win at this level.”
UNCW carved out a 40-30 lead at halftime and pushed the margin to 22 points early in the second half before HPU stormed back.
The Seahawks used a 9-0 spurt to increase the lead to 52-34 on a pair of free throws by Ross with 15:44 remaining. The margin then swelled to 22 points, 60-38, when Harden-Hayes drained a three-pointer on the left wing at the 13:27 mark.
Thiam then keyed a 22-5 run by the Panthers with the first of three treys to help HPU narrow the deficit to 65-50. House dropped in two free throws with 6:34 on the clock to get the Panthers within striking distance.
But White answered with a timely bucket on the right side and the Texas product exploded for nine of his 19 points in a three-minute stretch as the Seahawks held off the visitors. UNCW made 7-of-8 free throws in the last 1:12 to nail down the victory.
The Seahawks made their first four shots of the contest to bolt out to a 7-0 lead. Ross knocked down the second of back-to-back three-pointers with 17:13 left as UNCW jumped out front, 10-2. He scored scored 10 points – a career high – in the opening 20 minutes as the Seahawks seized control.
Junior guard Bryson Childress helped the Panthers close the gap to 11-9 when he drained a triple on the right wing before the Seahawks got untracked again.
Harden-Hayes sank a trey with 7:34 left as the UNCW lead ballooned to double digits, 27-17. Harden-Hayes then drained another triple, this time with 3:30 remaining, to give the Seahawks a 33-20 advantage.
Freshman Nolan Hodge dropped in a pair of free throws with just over two minutes left in the first half for the largest lead of the half, 38-24.