Second-seeded UNCW knocked off 10th-seeded College of Charleston, 79-53, in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Colonial Athletic Association Men's Basketball Championship on Saturday night at Royal Farms Arena.
The Seahawks will take on the winner of tonight's game between No. 3 Northeastern/No. 6 Delaware in the semifinals on Sunday, March 8 at 5 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
Head Coach Kevin Keatts, the 2015 CAA Coach of the Year, picked up his first conference tournament victory and will guide UNCW into its first CAA Championship semifinal appearance since 2008.
UNCW (18-12) was paced by 19-point efforts from seniors Freddie Jackson and Cedrick Williams, who were two of four Seahawks in double figures. Williams recorded his fourth double-double of the year, and eighth of his career, finishing the night with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Senior guard Addison Spruill, a first-team All-CAA selection, added 12 points and eight rebounds. Redshirt-junior guard Craig Ponder poured in 11 points.
The Cougars received a team-best 12 points from sophomore guard Joe Chealey (Orlando, Fla.), while freshman Donovan Gilmore (Greensboro, N.C.) tallied six points and 11 rebounds.
UNCW shot 53.4 percent for the game, including a 65.4 percent (17-for-26) clip in the second half, to pull away from CofC (9-24). On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks picked up seven steals and five blocks and limited the Cougars to 32.8% field goal shooting.
In the first half, Chealey got the Cougars off to a quick start, scoring the first two buckets of the game. The Seahawks responded with a 15-4 run over the next six minutes to open up a seven-point advantage with just under 12 minutes left in the half.
CofC narrowed the gap to 17-14 on a basket by sophomore Glen Pierre, Jr. (Orlando, Fla.) at the 8:17 mark but UNCW answered with another run, this time scoring nine unanswered points.
The Cougars cut the deficit to single digits once more, but a three-pointer by UNCW's Dylan Sherwood from the corner pushed it to 31-21 with 2:20 left in the frame. The Seahawks took a 36-25 lead into the break.
UNCW carried the momentum into the second half and opened a 49-31 advantage by hitting six of its first nine shots. The Cougars, meanwhile, went cold from the floor, experiencing a 4:49 scoring drought. The spell was ended at 11:45 after a lay-up by sophomore Terrance O'Donohue (Norcross, Ga.) lay-in. The Seahawks took a 25-point lead with 10:16 to go and CofC never got closer than 18 the rest of the way.
• For the second-straight CAA Tournament game, the Cougars went with the starting five of Joe Chealey, Cameron Johnson, Canyon Barry, Donovan Gilmore and Adjehi Baru (0-2).
• UNCW has now won four consecutive games in the all-time series which College of Charleston still leads 10-8. It was CofC's second-straight appearance in the CAA Quarterfinals (2014 and 2015). The Cougars are 1-2 all-time in CAA Tournament games.
• Joe Chealey scored a team-high 12 points against UNCW to end the season on a career-best 12-game double-digit scoring streak.
• Donovan Gilmore led the Cougars in rebounding with a career-best tying 11 including seven on the defensive end against UNCW. It tied his 11 rebounds versus Gardner-Webb on Nov. 17.
• It marked the final career games for seniors Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast), Anthony Stitt (Charlotte, N.C.) and Pat Branin (Richmond, Va.).
• Adjehi Baru closed out his four-year career ranked fifth all-time in career rebounding (third all-time in CofC's Division I history) with 916 boards, 126 blocks and 1,094 points (28th all-time).
• Anthony Stitt finished his four-year career ranked 15th all-time in career assists (309), 166 career three-pointers and 1,091 career points (29th all-time).
College of Charleston Head Coach Earl Grant
On the game ...
“UNCW played a great game. Their press bothered us. We had opportunities to attack them early in the game where we could have scored some layups, but we turned it over – 2 vs. 1 and 3 vs. 1. Our decision-making wasn't what it needed to be. In the result of our turnovers, they went the other direction and that really hurt us early in the game.”
On chances close to the basket and it effecting the team's confidence …
“When you play against a team that is pressing you like that, there are only one-of-two things that are going to happen. You are either going to lay it in or they are going to get a steal and go the other direction. When that happened to us early, we had to chase them and that got into our legs pretty quickly in the game. Wilmington got confidence from it and starting making every shot.”
On the difference between tonight's game versus the two others in the regular season against UNCW …
“They got into the open court and got some easy baskets. Once you start feeling good and this game is based on confidence, everything starts to go in. You make shots off of one leg and you make some shots going out-of-bounds. They kind of got going and got their juices flowing. Their ability to make shots became contagious.”
College of Charleston Sophomore Guard Joe Chealey
On the team's guard play …
“Me personally, I need to do a better job of remaining poised and making the right decision whether to attack or bring it back out to run our offense. I didn't do a good job of that tonight. Ultimately, that's what led them to get a big lead on us. I have to do better as our point guard.”?