Playing in front of a near-capacity crowd, UNCW battled back from a slow start against Stetson to tie the game with 34 seconds remaining. But, the Hatters used a late three-point field goal and two free throws to edge the Seahawks by a 52-49 margin at Trask Coliseum on Tuesday afternoon.
The game was played in front of a season-high 4,893 fans as part of the “Seahawks Tomorrow” series, where local elementary schoolchildren are invited to attend. The crowded featured 12 elementary schools and 46 volunteers, with 80 school buses transporting to and from each of the area schools. There were 578 Papa John’s cheese pizzas ordered from four stores and a total of 4,624 slices handed out along with 4,800 bottles of water.
UNCW, which was playing the first of three consecutive home games, dropped to 3-4 on the season. Meanwhile, Stetson extended its win streak to four straight games as the Hatters improved to 7-3.
The loss spoiled an outstanding performance by junior guard Jasmine Steele, who scored a career-high 19 points, including 17 in the second half. The Birmingham, Ala., native made 7 of 14 shots from the floor, including a 5-for-10 effort from beyond the arc.
Junior guards Naqaiyyah Teague and Amer Reevers each added 10 points and eight rebounds for UNCW, while junior forward Jordan Henry tallied a game-high 12 rebounds.
After Teague tied the game at 47-47 on a jumper, junior forward DeAsia Beal knocked down a three-point field goal from the corner with 10 seconds left for a 50-47 edge. Teague converted a layup with six seconds remaining to narrow the margin to 50-49, but two Saunders free throws with four seconds left sealed the win for Stetson.
The Hatters, who made their first-ever trip to the Port City, were led by junior guard Brianti Saunders. The reigning Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week scored 18 points, including a 9-for-10 performance from the free throw line, with boards.
After playing two games in the span of three days, UNCW returns to the floor for back-to-back contests as part as the Seahawks Christmas Invitational Dec. 18-19. The Seahawks take on Ohio and Chattanooga at 2 p.m. each day.