ASHEVILLE, North Carolina – Senior forward Devontae Cacok and freshman playmaker Kai Toews each recorded double-doubles and UNCW dominated Eastern Illinois, 82-65, early Sunday on the final day of the inaugural VisitCurrituckOBX.com Battle In The Blue Ridge.
The Seahawks improved to 3-4 and went 2-1 in the Thanksgiving holiday tournament at U.S. Cellular Arena. The Panthers of the Ohio Valley Conference also carved out a 2-1 mark in the exempt event and stand 3-3 on the season.
Redshirt sophomore guard Ty Gadsden of UNCW shared game-high honors with 19 points, including 16 in a pivotal first half, to pace the Seahawks. The active Cacok finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, junior forward Jeantal Cylla scored 13 and Toews collected 10 points and 14 assists.
Sophomore guard Josiah Wallace was one of two Panthers in double figures with 19 points. Freshman guard Ben Harvey added 12 points for EIU.
One day after taking a tough 81-72 loss to Gardner-Webb, the Seahawks bounced back with a total team effort that featured 55.9 percent shooting and 18 assists on 33 baskets. Head Coach C.B. McGrath used a different starting lineup for the first time this season and the Seahawks responded with their best game of the round-robin tournament.
Gadsden was the catalyst in the first half as the Seahawks started quickly and led by as many as 13 points in the first half. The Charlotte product was on fire in the opening period, converting all six of his field goal attempts, including a perfect 4-for-4 from deep, for 16 points.
Gadsden drained his third and fourth trey and Cacok sank a 12-footer in a 12-0 run to give the Seahawks a 40-27 cushion with 2:46 left in the first half. Gadsden then capped his outstanding first period with a jumper on the right elbow as the Seahawks took a 45-32 advantage into the break.
The Seahawks then poured it on in the second half, scoring nine of the first 14 points after intermission and maintaining a double digit lead the entire second period in an impressive performance.
UNCW’s largest lead of the game came with 6:10 left to play when Cacok scored inside and the lead ballooned to 76-50.
The Seahawks scored 22 second chance points and 24 points in the paint in the contest.
KEY MOMENT: With 4:07 left in the first half, EIU trimmed the deficit to 28-27, but Gadsden answered with a triple on the left wing – his second of the game – to kickstart a 12-0 run that helped the Seahawks gain breathing room.
DEEP THREAT: The Seahawks went 11-for-21 from three-point range and six players had at least one trifecta.
NEW FIVE: Head Coach C.B. McGrath went with a new starting lineup for the first time this season and the group responded by going a collective 27-for-45 (.600) from the field.
GAME OF RUNS: The Seahawks had 9-0 and 12-0 runs in the first half to grab control in the opening period.
HECKUVA HALF: Sophomore guard Ty Gadsden played 17 minutes in the first half and made them count. He buried all six of his field goal attempts and was a perfect 4-for-4 behind the arc for 16 points.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS: Freshman point guard Kai Toews dished out 14 assists, one off the school record of 15 helpers set by Chad Tomko in an overtime thriller at Towson on Jan. 24, 2009.
QUOTABLE: “We played hard and played together as a team. We had good energy and fed off of each other. We played unselfish. We got some good looks. I was proud of our guys.”-UNCW Head Coach C.B. McGrath
NEXT UP: UNCW returns home on Tuesday, Nov. 27, to entertain rival East Carolina in a 7 p.m. tip-off at Trask Coliseum.
VisitCurrituckOBX.com Battle In The Blue Ridge Results|Schedule
Friday, November 23, 2018
Eastern Illinois 79, Gardner-Webb 78
UNCW 78, Arkansas State 64
Saturday, November 24, 2018
Eastern Illinois 90, Arkansas State 86, OT
Gardner-Webb 81, UNCW 72
Sunday, November 25, 2018
UNCW 82, Eastern Illinois 65
Gardner-Webb vs. Arkansas State, 3:30 p.m.