PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – Graduate guard Trevor John scored all 14 of his points in the second half to help Drexel salvage a split of the regular season series with UNCW in a 69-57 victory over the Seahawks on Thursday night at the cozy Daskalakis Center.
The Dragons improved to 12-13 overall and squared their conference record at 6-6 on the season. The Seahawks dropped their fourth in a row to dip to 8-17 and 4-8.
Junior forward Alihan Demir of Drexel led all scorers with 20 points, while John, a transfer from Cal Poly, pitched in 14 and sophomore forward James Butler finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Senior forward Devontae Cacok paced the Seahawks with 15 points and nine rebounds. Freshman guard Jaylen Sims contributed 11 points – one shy of his career high. Cacok, who played just seven minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls, had his streak of 12 consecutive double-double games snapped in the outing, but still led the team in scoring for the 21st time this season.
The two teams locked up in a defensive tussle in the first half before the offenses got untracked after intermission. Drexel outscored UNCW, 46-35, in the last 20 minutes and made 7-of-13 three-pointers in the decisive final period.
A Sims drive to the basket gave the Seahawks a 44-43 edge with 11:29 left, but the Dragons answered with eight straight points to gain some breathing room. Demir converted a conventional three-point play, reserve guard Coletrane Washington sank a trey and Butler tossed in two free throws to give the Dragons a 53-46 advantage.
The Seahawks managed to close the gap to five points, 57-52, on a basket underneath by Cacok with 5:52 on the clock before Washington tossed in two free throws and Demir sank a hook shot to increase the lead to nine points. The Seahawks got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Drexel, which lost to UNCW, 97-83, back on Jan. 10 at Trask Coliseum, led by as many as 10 points early in the contest before holding a 23-22 edge at intermission following a back-and-forth first half. Troy Harper sank the team’s only three-pointer of the first half with seven seconds remaining to give the Dragons a one-point lead at the break.
SERIES UPDATE: The Seahawks still own a 20-13 advantage in the 33-game series. UNCW had its seven-game winning streak vs. the Dragons halted with Thursday’s loss.
ON THE ROAD: The Seahawks now stand 2-8 in true road games and 4-9 in combined road games/neutral site games.
TOEWS CLIMBS TO NO. 2: With three assists, freshman playmaker Kai Toews moved past Denzel Ingram into No. 2 on the single season assist list with 191 helpers He needs only 54 dimes to break Rick Alessi’s record of 244 assists set during the 1974-75 campaign.
FEBRUARY UPDATE: After losses to James Madison and Drexel, the Seahawks are 0-2 in February. UNCW stands 7-3 vs. Drexel in games played during the second month of the calendar year.
KEY MOMENT: After Cacok scored on the right baseline to give UNCW a 46-45 edge with 10:08 showing, the Dragons reeled off eight consecutive points to crank out a seven-point margin and held on down the stretch.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS: The Seahawks matched their season low for three-pointers with two trifectas, equaling the total made vs. Arkansas State on Nov. 23 in the fifth game of the season.
QUOTABLE: “They got their three’s early on in transition and later they made a couple looks. Our guys did a nice job of competing the whole game. We kept battling back. In the end, we just couldn’t get it in the basket when we needed to in order to put pressure on them.”– UNCW Head Coach C.B. McGrath
NEXT UP: The Seahawks complete their two-game road trip to the mid-Atlantic with a 7 p.m. tip-off on Saturday at Delaware. The Blue Hens topped the Seahawks, 82-69, in the first game of the season between the two clubs on Jan. 10 at Trask Coliseum.