CHARLESTON, South Carolina – Senior guard Jordon Talley matched the best individual performance in conference tournament history with 37 points to power No. 6 UNCW past No. 3 Hofstra, 93-88, in the final quarterfinal game of the 2018 Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship late Sunday at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The two-time defending CAA champions have won seven consecutive games in the CAA Tournament and carry an 11-20 record into their 22nd semifinal appearance on Monday night vs No. 3 Northeastern. The Seahawks and Huskies collide at 8:30 p.m. following the No. 1 Charleston vs. No. 4 William & Mary matchup. Hofstra dropped to 19-12.
The crafty Talley tied the tournament scoring record set by William & Mary’s Marcus Thornton in the 2015 semifinals against Hofstra. Talley made 12-of-23 field goals, including 5-of-10 from long distance, and 8-of-9 at the free throw line for a career night on the hardwood.
The Richmond, Va., playmaker anchored four players in double figures for the Seahawks, who shot 56.3 percent in the second half after trailing by eight points at the break. Junior forward Devontae Cacok added 17 points and nine rebounds, sophomore guard Jaylen Fornes scored 13 points and redshirt sophomore guard Ty Taylor finished with 10.
Junior guard Justin Wright-Foreman, the CAA’s Player-of-the-Year, paced the Pride with 29 points on 10-for-23 shooting. Junior guard Desure Buie chipped in 20 points, CAA All-Rookie selection Jalen Ray collected 16 and senior center Rokas Gustys had 12 points and 10 boards in his final collegiate game.
“It was a heckuva basketball game,” said UNCW first-year Head Coach C.B. McGrath, who enjoyed a successful debut in the CAA Tournament. “We got off to a quick start in the second half and went from there. People were making some big-time shots. Jordon made quite a few of them.”
The Seahawks trailed throughout the contest before finally catching up with the Pride midway through the second half, but the outcome wasn’t decided until the closing seconds.
After Talley dropped in a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left to give the Seahawks a 91-88 advantage, the Pride in-bounded the ball to Buie, who dribbled the right side and missed a game-tying trey with 13 seconds left. Fornes grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and iced the game with two free throws at the other end.
Hofstra led, 56-47, at the 17-minute mark when the Seahawks used a 19-5 run to get back into the game. A jumper by Talley at the free throw line gave the Seahawks to a 66-61 advantage with just over 11 minutes left.
The Pride bounced back, however, behind Wright-Foreman and the lead changed hands six times before the Seahawks took the lead for good, 80-79, when Talley completed an old-fashioned three-play with 3:35 left to play as Gustys went to the sideline with his fifth personal.
The Pride capitalized on Cacok’s early foul trouble to forge out to a 48-40 lead at intermission after connecting on 48.6 percent from the floor.
Cacok, the nation’s leading rebounder, picked up two quick personal fouls in the first 90 seconds of the contest, but freshmen Jay Estime and Jeff Gary provided a lift for the Seahawks, who scored 12 straight points to turn a quick 4-0 deficit into a 12-4 advantage with 14:45 left in the opening period.
But the Pride caught up with the Seahawks midway through the half with a 21-9 spurt and then reeled off six straight points to grab a 35-24 cushion. Gustys made the first of two free throws with 5:30 on the clock and the Pride owned an 11-point margin.
Buie connected on the first of two free throws after McGrath was assessed with a technical foul at 2:08 to push the Hofstra lead to 43-31 at 2:08, but the Seahawks knocked the deficit below double digits on Talley’s triple as time expired in the first half.
Talley led all scorers with 19 in the first half on 6-of-12 shooting, but the rest of the Seahawk lineup went 7-for-19 from the floor and Hofstra’s reserves provided 16 of the team’s 48 points.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks own a 21-19 edge in the all-time series with the Pride…UNCW is 4-2 against Hofstra in the CAA Tournament…The game featured six All-CAA performers… UNCW now stands 40-26 all-time in the CAA Tournament…The Seahawks are 4-0 at the North Charleston Coliseum…UNCW is now 2-2 as the No. 6 seed….Jordon Talley has reached double figures in scoring in 22 straight games… Jordon Talley stands fifth on the all-time appearance list with 124 games over four seasons…Talley stands ninth on the all-time scoring list with 1,300 points in 124 contests…Devontae Cacok has 422 rebounds, third only to Navy’s David Robinson (455 in 1985-86) and Hofstra’s Rokas Gustys (442 in 2015-16) in a CAA season…No. 6 seeds are now 8-25 in CAA Tournament quarterfinal games after UNCW’s win late Sunday.