WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Freshman playmaker Kai Toews poured in a career-high 23 points and senior forward Devontae Cacok matched the school record for double-doubles to power UNCW over William & Mary, 93-88, in Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball action Thursday night at Trask Coliseum.
Playing the opener of a four-game home stand, the Seahawks hiked their record to 8-13 overall and 4-4 in the CAA with the victory. The Tribe dropped its fourth straight contest to dip to 7-13 and 3-5 in the league.
Toews, from Toyko, Japan, went 9-of-14 from the floor and 5-of-6 at the charity stripe to anchor four Seahawks in double figures. Cacok racked up 22 points and 16 rebounds for his NCAA-leading 15th double-double of the season and tied all-time great Brian Rowsom’s career record with his 50th two-way gem. He also had five steals to fill the stat line.
Sophomore guard Ty Gadsden contributed 16 points, including 11-of-13 at the free throw line, and junior forward Jeantal Cylla added 12 for the Seahawks, who moved to 44-29 lifetime against W&M.
W&M also placed four in double figures, topped by 24 points each from junior forward Nathan Knight and freshman guard Chase Audige. Redshirt junior guard Matt Milon collected 18 points – 15 in the second half – and freshman guard L.J. Owens chipped in 10 for the Tribe.
UNCW fell behind in the first five minutes, but picked up steam to jump ahead by nine at the break before leading by as many as 17 points late in the second half. Both teams shot better than 50 percent on the night, with W&M connecting on 51.7 percent and UNCW hitting 50.8 percent from the floor.
In the second half, the Seahawks forged out to a 75-58 cushion when Jay Estime’ converted both ends of a bonus situation at the 6:20 mark. The Seahawks were still in control 90-79 when Gadsden sank a pair of free throws with 36 seconds left before Milon made things interesting.
The Oviedo, Fla., product buried three triples in a row, scoring nine points in 16 seconds, and pulled the Tribe within, 91-88, with five ticks remaining, but Gadsden put the game on ice with two free throws with 2.9 seconds on the clock.
After a slow start, the Seahawks got rolling behind Cacok, who had his program-matching 50th double-double by halftime. The CAA First-Teamer piled up 12 points and 13 rebounds in the first 20 minutes of play.
W&M sank five of its first seven field goal attempts after junior guard Justin Pierce drained a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Tribe a 12-7 advantage.
But the Seahawks responded with a 15-2 run over the next six minutes, capped by Cacok’s jumper in the paint that gave UNCW a 22-14 lead with 9:16 remaining in the opening period.
The Seahawks went on to post their largest lead of the first half, 36-25, when Cylla dropped in a jumper on the right baseline at the 3:03 mark.
BATTLE OF THE BIGS: Both Cacok and Knight turned in big nights and double-doubles. Cacok now has 15 on the season and Knight pushed his total to seven.
CASHING IN: The Seahawks went 28-of-35 at the free throw line for 80 percent, with the starting lineup draining 27-of-33 charity tosses.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS: The Seahawks shot at least 50 percent for the sixth time this season and stands a perfect 6-0 in those contests.
KEY MOMENT: After Knight’s free throw cut UNCW’s lead to 58-52 with 12:20 left on the clock, Gadsden reeled off seven straight points to get the margin back to 65-52 with 11:13 remaining.
QUOTABLE: “We almost put together two halves tonight. Our guys really played hard for 36 minutes. I thought we did a good job of contesting most shots. They really run their offense. Our big guys did a nice job of getting out on them.”- UNCW Head Coach C.B. McGrath
SUITS AND SNEAKERS: The game was the first of two Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers games. Suits and Sneakers Week (Jan. 22-28, 2019) is a nationwide event that unites coaches across the country to raise funds and awareness about the fight against cancer. Both coaching staffs donned sneakers with their game attire as a visible reminder on the importance of nutrition and physical activity to reduce cancer risk.
NEXT UP: The Seahawks remain at home to entertain Elon on Saturday at 4 p.m. The contest concludes the first half of the CAA schedule for both teams.