WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Southern Conference champion UNC Greensboro built a comfortable halftime lead and turned back several runs by UNCW after intermission to down the Seahawks, 82-61, in a matchup of state rivals on Tuesday at Trask Coliseum.
The Spartans, who lost at No. 23 LSU, 97-91, last Saturday, improved to 2-1 after playing their first three games on the road this season. The Seahawks stand 0-3 on the young season with successive losses to Campbell, Stanford and UNCG in the new campaign.
Senior guard Francis Alonso paced four Spartans in double figures with 18 points. Junior forward Kyrin Galloway added 12 points, junior guard Malik Massey chipped in 11 and sophomore guard Isaiah Miller finished with 10.
Senior forward Devontae Cacok of UNCW put up his usual big numbers, scoring 17 points and hauling in 16 rebounds. Junior guard Jaylen Fornes was the only other Seahawk in double digits with 15 points.
UNCG built a 16-point advantage at the break and saw its margin whittle down to three points midway through the second period. But the Spartans responded with a 15-2 spurt over a 6:13 span to pull away down the stretch.
Fornes converted a driving layup and added a conventional three-point play with 9:51 remaining to close the gap to 58-55 until UNCG rallied.
Massey, held scoreless in the first 20 minutes, answered with a layup and free throw to get the margin back to 61-55 and after UNCW’s Jeantal Cylla connected on a driving layup, the Spartans reeled off 15 consecutive points to break away over the final eight minutes.
UNCW inched out to a 12-10 edge on a putback by reserve forward Shawn O’Connell with 14:45 left in the first half before UNCG got untracked. The Spartans scored 10 unanswered points over the next 2:11 to take control and went into the break leading, 45-29. When Kaleb Hunter dunked with three seconds on the clock, it was the largest lead of the half for the Spartans.
UNCG shot a robust 57.1 percent in the first 20 minutes and held the Seahawks to 33.3 percent. The Spartans also forced 11 turnovers by UNCW in the first period.
The Spartans wound up shooting 56.7 percent from the floor for the game, compared to 40.7 percent for the Seahawks.
CACOK UPDATE: Senior Devontae Cacok notched his 37th career double-double early in the second half and wound up with team highs of 17 points and 16 boards.
ANOTHER BIG RUN: Stanford cranked out 17 straight points in last Friday’s win over the Seahawks and UNCG used a 15-0 spurt late in the game Tuesday to pull away again from the home team.
MONEY MASSEY: Junior guard Malik Massey of UNCG did not attempt a field goal in the first half on Tuesday, but went 4-for-5 in the final period and finished with 11 points and two assists for the Spartans.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS: Devontae Cacok’s 16 rebounds gives him 19 games with at least 16 rebounds during his storied four-year career.
KEY MOMENT: With UNCW climbing to within 58-55 and 9:51 on the clock, Malik Massey soared in for a layup and notched the and-one to get the UNCG lead back to 61-55.
GAME OF RUNS: After UNCG scored the first two buckets of the second half, the Seahawks regrouped with a 10-0 spurt, capped by a Jaylen Fornes triple with just under 16 minutes left to play.
TURNOVER TIME: The Seahawks wound up with 19 turnovers and nine of the 11 players on the court committed at least one miscue.
QUOTABLE: “You can’t get stops every single time, but you can control turning the ball over for the most part. I told the guys that if you compete for 40 minutes, but turn it over that many times, it’s hard to beat anybody, no matter how hard you play.” -UNCW Head Coach C.B. McGrath
NEXT UP: UNCW concludes its early November three-game home clip with a 2 p.m. matchup on Sunday vs. NAIA member Allen at Trask Coliseum.