The Seahawks dropped their sixth consecutive contest and fell to 2-7 after playing their second straight SoCon foe. It was only the third home game in nine outings for the Seahawks in 2017-18.
The Paladins reeled off their fifth consecutive win and hiked their record to 9-3 with the road victory. Furman evened the series at one win apiece after the Seahawks claimed the initial meeting in December of 2011.
The slippery Sibley, a senior guard, anchored four Paladin starters in double figures with his 24 points on 9-of-11 from the floor, including 4-of-5 from deep. Junior guard Andrew Brown added 18 points, junior forward Matt Rafferty scored 16 and senior guard John Davis had 14.
Junior forward Devontae Cacok led the Seahawks in scoring for the fourth time this season with 24 points and the nation’s fourth leading rebounder added 13 caroms. It was Cacok’s seventh double-double in nine games and his 20th career double-double in three seasons.
Cacok was one of four Seahawks in double digits. Senior guard Jordon Talley collected 21 points, sophomore guard Jaylen Fornes contributed 20 points and redshirt sophomore guard Ty Taylor had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists.
“It was a tough loss,” said C.B. McGrath, UNCW’s first-year head coach. “I liked the way our guys competed for a stretch there. I liked how we rebounded the ball…that kept us in the basketball game.
“I told our guys after the game that seven or eight minutes of that defense will get you a win. I don’t know why we can’t get it to be a 40-minute consistent effort with that energy and activity on the defensive end. Until we do that, all the other stuff doesn’t make much difference.”
After draining nine three-pointers and shooting 56.7 percent in the first period for a 47-44 edge at halftime, the Paladins continued to shoot well early in the second half and padded the lead to 62-53 on back-to-back layups by Sibley and Rafferty.
The lead ballooned to 13 points, 79-66, on Daniel’s Fowler turnaround jumper with 8:53 on the clock before the Seahawks made it a one possession game.
Fornes and Taylor ignited a 9-0 rally and a triple by Taylor on the right wing sliced the margin to 83-80 with 3:53 left to play. But Davis stuck a jumper on the other end of the floor and Sibley added a layup with 1:17 on the clock to get the lead back to 87-82 as the Paladins held on for their third win over a Colonial Athletic Association opponent this season.
The two teams came out with the hot hand early, combining for 17-of-30 from the floor and 7-of-12 from deep in the first 9:34. Furman inched ahead, 22-17, on a pair of three-pointers by Sibley and reserve guard Jordan Lyons with just over 13 minutes left in the opening period and the Paladins were still on top, 35-28, when the Seahawks responded with a big run.
After Sibley drained a three-pointer with 7:37 left to give Furman the 35-28 margin, UNCW scored 11 unanswered points over the next 3:06 to build a 39-25 edge.
Furman then took a 47-44 advantage into intermission after shooting 56.7 percent from the floor and connecting on 9-of-17 behind the arc. Sibley had 14 points and Brown scored 11 in the first frame for the Paladins.
Cacok, meanwhile, turned in a productive first 20 minutes for the Seahawks with 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Seahawks head back on the road next week with their debut in the 2017 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational in El Paso, Texas. UNCW will face North Dakota State on Thursday, Dec. 21, in a 7 p.m. ET tip-off.
GAME NOTES: Furman has beaten CAA members UNCW, Elon and Northeastern….UNCW now stands 21-18 against SoCon opponents…The Seahawks had a six-game home winning streak snapped…Devontae Cacok‘s double-double gave the Seahawks 11 on the season…Devontae Cacok reached double figures in scoring for the 13th straight game…The Seahawks won the rebounding battle by a 40-29 margin…UNCW scored 46 of its 84 points in the paint…There were seven ties and 10 lead changes in the contest…Furman outscored the Seahawks by three points each half…UNCW shot 56.5 percent at the free throw line and Furman managed 60 percent…Three Seahawks finished with four or more fouls…Furman outscored the Seahawks behind the arc, 39-15.