Wilmington, NC – Charleston graduate guard Jaylon Scott swatted away a game-winning attempt by UNCW senior guard Shykeim Phillips with less than a second remaining to give No. 22 Charleston a 71-69 men’s basketball victory over UNCW before a sellout crowd on Wednesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Cougars extended their nation-leading winning streak to 16 games and raised their record to 17-1 overall and 5-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Seahawks had their school-record 13-game winning streak snapped and sit at 14-4 and 4-1.
Graduate guard Dalton Bolon paced four Cougars in double figures with 16 points, followed by sophomore forward Ante Brzovic and graduate guard Ryan Larson with13 points apiece and Ben Burnham with 12 points.
Sophomore guards Trazarien White and Jamarii Thomas led the Seahawks with 16 points each, senior forward Amari Kelly collected 13 points and senior guard Maleeck Harden-Hayes finished with 12.
“They came out and punched us in the month,” said third-year UNCW. “We were just trying to hold on in the first half. In the second half, we came out and played like we’re capable. We were tougher than them and outcompeted them. In clutch moments, we made mistakes and they made us pay for them. We had our chance to win the game more than one time. We just have to be better in clutch moments.”
Charleston raced out to a 42-31 lead at intermission and overcame 23.3 percent shooting in the second half to remain the lone unbeaten team in the conference.
UNCW cut into the 11-point halftime deficit and finally took its first lead of the game, 63-62, on a baseline jumper by Harden-Hayes with 4:21 on the clock. The Seahawks then pushed the advantage to 69-64 on a Thomas three-pointer at the 2:22 mark, setting up a wild final two minutes.
Brzovic’s clutch trey from the top of the key – his only three-pointer of the contest – with 2:10 left narrowed the lead to 69-67, and a conventional three-point play by Larson with 1:33 on the clock helped Charleston retake the lead, setting up Horton’s timely block on the other end of the floor. A free throw by Larson with less than a second remaining gave the Cougars their final advantage before Nick Farrar’s long three-point field goal attempt rattled around the rim as time expired.
The Cougars used the strong play of Burnham and an opportunistic defense to build a 42-31 advantage at intermission. Burnham scored all 12 of his points in the first period to help Charleston get off to a quick start.
Burnham made all five of his field goal attempts in the opening half to match White for scoring honors in the first frame. Charleston shot 56.2 percent in the first half and got 17 points from its bench to forge out to a double-digit lead over the Seahawks.
Leading by two points, 14-12, following a bank shot by Harden-Hayes on the left side, the Cougars reeled off seven unanswered points over the next 2:06 to pull out to a 21-12 advantage. A pair of free throws by Pat Robinson, Jr., gave the Cougars a 21-12 lead with 9:21 to go.
Larson later gave Charleston its largest lead of the game, 40-25, with a three-pointer on the left wing with 2:26 left in the first stanza.
The Seahawks started the second half with a 13-2 spurt and took advantage of a Charleston cold spell to close the gap to two points with 13 minutes remaining. Charleston missed its first 15 field goal attempts of the final period, opening the door for UNCW’s comeback.
Six different players scored in the rally and Nick Farrar’s jumper with 13:17 on the clock chopped the deficit to 46-44.
UNCW, playing the opener of a three-game homestand, returns to the court on Saturday with a 5 p.m. start vs. William & Mary. The contest will be televised by the CBS Sports Network.
Source: Joe Browning, UNCW Senior Associate A.D.