UNCW basketball remains unbeaten with thriller against Western Michigan

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Junior guard Chris Flemming keyed a long distance barrage as host UNCW held off Mid-American Conference foe Western Michigan 80-76  in a non-conference men’s basketball game Saturday night at Trask Coliseum.

The Seahawks improved to 3-0 on the season for the first time since 2005-06 following victories over Milligan, Eastern Kentucky and the Broncos. The Broncos slid to 1-2 in dropping their second road game in as many tries this season.

Flemmings, a transfer from Barton College, shared game-high scoring honors with 19 points and connected on 4-of-8 behind the arc for the Seahawks, who drained 10 triples on the night. Junior guard Denzel Ingram chipped in 12 points and sophomore playmaker Jordon Talley added 10 for the Seahawks.
“They made us work for every basket we got,” said Kevin Keatts, UNCW’s second-year coach. “I found out a lot about my team tonight. I had a chance to find out really who we were. We changed the game around and played with a little toughness in the second half.”

The Seahawks fell behind early, fought back to take the lead with 12 minutes left and then hung on down the stretch to remain unbeaten, but it wasn’t easy. Thomas Wilder’s game-tying floater in the paint bounced off the back of the rim with 1.4 seconds left and Talley snared the rebound, was fouled and dropped in a pair of free throws to seal the final decision.

UNCW remained unbeaten with a big win on Saturday. Photo courtesy- UNCW sports
UNCW remained unbeaten with a big win on Saturday. Photo courtesy- UNCW sports

UNCW finally overtook WMU midway through the second period and led by eight points, 77-69, with 1:47 remaining before the Broncos stormed back. Wilder connected on a spinning layup and ensuing free throw, Tucker Haymond drained a fade away jumper and Anthony Avery scored on a put back to close the gap to 77-76 with 36 ticks remaining.

After freshman forward Devontae Cook made the first of two free throws with 18.8 seconds remaining, the Broncos, with no time outs left, got the ball into Wilder, who drove the lane for his desperation off-balance jumper from eight feet away.

After trailing 37-28 at intermission, the Seahawks found themselves still back, 51-39, over the first three minutes of the final period before rallying down the stretch.

The Broncos, who scored 42 points in the paint, capitalized on a slow start by the Seahawks for a quick 10-5 advantage. While the Seahawks were making just one of their first six field goal attempts, the Broncos were going 4-for-7 and freshman guard Josh Davis converted the second of two free throws at 15:42 to give WMU a 10-5 edge.

But UNCW dialed long distance, connecting on five consecutive triples, to take its first lead of the game. Flemmings had three treys in the surge and back-to-back three’s by the junior transfer lifted the Seahawks to a 17-13 lead at 13:26.

The two teams traded baskets the remainder of the opening period before the Broncos went on an 11-2 tear to grab control.

The Seahawks break for the Thanksgiving holiday before traveling to Johnson City, Tenn., on Saturday, Nov. 28, for their road opener at East Tennessee State.