Elon, NC – For the second straight season, the UNCW men’s basketball team has won 12 games in a row…and counting.
The Seahawks, 13-3 and 3-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association, matched the school record for consecutive wins by zipping past Elon, 81-66, on Wednesday night at the Schar Center. Elon plummeted to 2-14 and 0-3.
Head Coach Takayo Siddle’s club, tied with Florida Atlantic for the second longest streak in the NCAA Division I ranks, won for the first time in four tries at the Schar Center. The team equaled the 12 straight victories set by last year’s College Basketball Invitational champions that finished 27-9.
“We played with a high level of toughness,” Siddle said following the game. “One of our keys going into the game was to crash the offensive glass. We had some up on the glass that we could get and we got mostly all of them.
“I’m very proud of the guys. We played with so much force and so much intensity from start to finish. Everybody came in and contributed. Our starters set the tone and I thought we maxed out tonight. Everybody contributed to the win.”
Sophomore guard Trazarien White was nearly unstoppable from the opening tip, scoring 15 points in the first half and winding up with a career-high 26 points, along with seven rebounds. Senior forward Amari Kelly also turned in a career-high game, bucketing 15 points with seven boards.
“Trazarien did some really good things,” said Siddle. “He got going early. He was really comfortable. He’s really grown into a fine player. He had a heckuva game.”
Sophomore guard Jamarii Thomas and senior guard Maleeck Harden-Hayes pitched in 12 points each to give the Seahawks four in double figures for the fifth time this season.
Senior guard Zac Ervin paced three Elon players in double digits with 16 points. Senior guard Torrence Watson added 14 points and graduate guard Sean Halloran finished with 13.
Playing their first game of the new year and facing Elon’s Billy Taylor for the first time, the Seahawks jumped out early on the Phoenix and remained in control most of the night, leading by as many as 20 points before the final verdict.
UNCW built a 38-29 advantage at halftime and kept the Phoenix at bay, continually penetrating Elon’s zone defense and pounding the boards. The Seahawks owned the rebounding battle, 40-25, including a commanding 16-3 advantage on the offensive glass.
Ultimately, the Seahawks used a decisive 13-2 run midway through the second half to break away from the Phoenix, who surrendered 81 points after allowing just 62 and 57 points to Drexel and Delaware in its first two league contests.
UNCW’s largest lead of the game came with 9:26 left when reserve guard Nick Farrar scored his only basket to put the Seahawks ahead, 64-44.
After Elon opened the game with a pair of free throws, the Seahawks answered with back-to-back slams by White and Kelly to forge out to an 8-4 edge. White then connected on a driving layup with 15:53 remaining in the opening period as the Seahawks grabbed control.
The Phoenix battled back to retake the lead, 18-17, on Ervin’s three-pointer at the 11:47 mark before the Seahawks got untracked again.
With White clicking on all cylinders and Thomas providing a spark, the Seahawks registered their largest lead of the period with just under a minute left in the opening half when freshman guard Noah Ross buried a three-pointer in the left corner to give the Seahawks a 38-29 advantage at the break.
UNCW wraps up its two-game conference road trip and four roadies in a five-game stretch early Saturday when the Seahawks take on CAA newcomer North Carolina A&T in a 2 p.m. tip at the Corbett Sports Center in Greensboro, N.C.
Source: Joe Browning, UNCW Senior Associate A.D.