Wilmington, NC – Red-hot UNCW continues a stretch of four road games in five outings on Wednesday with a Colonial Athletic Association men’s hoops matchup against rebuilding Elon at the Schar Center in Elon, N.C.
The Seahawks, 12-3 overall and 2-0 in the CAA, carry an 11-game winning streak into the matchup with the Phoenix, 2-13 and 0-2. UNCW, which hits the midway point in the season, has not tasted defeat since a loss to No. 4 UConn 37 days ago in Storrs, Conn.
The UNCW-Elon clash can be heard on 95.9 FM The Breeze, with play-by-play voice Mike Vaccaro on the call, beginning at 6:45 p.m. Video is available on FloSports.com.
Takayo Siddle’s club will be trying to match the school record for consecutive wins after dispatching its second straight CAA Newcomer, Hampton, 82-65, on New Year’s Eve at Trask Coliseum.
The Phoenix, on the other hand, find themselves in the spoiler’s role for the second year in a row. Last season, Elon snapped UNCW’s school-record 12-gamer on Feb. 3, 2022.
This time around, Elon, is retooling under new skipper Billy Taylor, who took over the program last April after three seasons at NCAA Division II Belmont Abbey. The Phoenix concluded a five-game road swing last Saturday with a 57-52 loss in a see-saw battle at Delaware. Senior guard Zac Ervin led all scorers with 18 points behind 6-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-4 at the free throw line. Graduate guard Sean Halloran pitched in 16 points for the Phoenix, who dropped their seventh straight to the Blue Hens.
With 11 straight wins, UNCW is tied for the nation’s third longest winning streak (Florida Atlantic) behind only New Mexico (14) and Charleston (13). Elon has lost five in a row by an average of 10.4 ppg. The Phoenix has not won since a 101-69 verdict vs. Johnson & Wales (Charlotte) on Dec. 11, 2022.
“As we continue to win, we’re going to have a target on us,” said Siddle. “Nothing changes with what we’re doing in practice. We just want to amp things up a little more. I want us to have a business approach to everything.
“We want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to put ourselves in a position to win the game. It takes a lot of discipline and focus to win at the rate we are. We have to make sure we don’t overlook our opponents and are in the right mindset to give ourselves a chance to win.
“We’re going to have our hands full with Elon. We need to understand that and not look ahead to anything.”
Wednesday marks the 29th meeting between the two rivals and the 18th as Colonial Athletic Association foes. The state foes have won 14 games apiece in the series, with UNCW owning a 9-8 edge since Elon joined the CAA during the 2014-15 season
The maroon-clad Schar Center has not been kind to the Seahawks. UNCW has dropped its three appearances in the 5,100-seat venue, falling on Feb. 21, 2019 (84-77), Jan 11, 2020 (80-63) and Feb. 3, 2022 (78-65).
The Seahawks are suiting up against a familiar face. Former Seahawk John Bowen is closing out his collegiate career as a graduate transfer for Taylor and the Phoenix. In two seasons for the Seahawks from 2020-21, Bowen appeared in 40 games, scoring 101 points (2.5 avg.), grabbing 82 rebounds (2.1 avg.) and blocking 16 shots (0.4 avg.)
During their impressive streak, the Seahawks have limited opponents to 59.8 ppg and held them to 39.6 percent shooting. Opposing teams have converted just 26.3 percent of their three-point field goal attempts during the stretch (55-for-209).
With last Saturday’s decision over the Pirates, the Seahawks became the first team in UNCW history to go unbeaten in December with an unblemished 6-0 record in the last month of the calendar year.
The Seahawks have been an outstanding road team in Siddle’s three seasons and stand 3-3 in true road games in 2022-23, losing their first three away contests before claiming three straight.
The Seahawks have shot 50 percent or better after intermission in 10-of-15 games, including six of the last seven outings. UNCW made 60 percent of its field goal attempts in the final period against Hampton.
Following Wednesday’s clash with the Phoenix, the Seahawks wrap up a two-game road swing to the Triad by visiting North Carolina A&T for a 2 p.m. tip-off at the Corbett Sports Center in Greensboro.
Source: Joe Browning, UNCW Senior Associate A.D.