Junior guard Chris Flemmings scored 23 points, including four critical free throws in the final 21 seconds and grabbed 13 rebounds to power UNCW over James Madison 78-73 in a matchup between two of the Colonial Athletic Association’s top three men’s basketball teams on Thursday at the JMU Convocation Center.
The Seahawks won their sixth consecutive game – their longest streak of the season – and climbed to 15-5 overall and 7-2 in the CAA. UNCW maintained a share of first place in the CAA with Hofstra, which held on against Elon on Thursday night in Hempstead, N.Y.
The Dukes slipped to 16-6 overall and 6-3 in the CAA after having their five-game winning streak halted by the Seahawks. UNCW and JMU meet again on Saturday, Feb. 13, at Trask Coliseum.
“It was a great conference game,” said Kevin Keatts, UNCW’s second-year coach. “JMU is a very good team. They have an elite player in Ron Curry and made us play all the way to the end.
“We got conservative at the end. I wanted us to continue to play, but we started to look at the clock. Once we realized what we needed to do, we finished the game.”
The talented Flemmings went 7-of-15 from the field and 7-of-9 at the free throw line to lead three Seahawks in double figures. Junior guard Denzel Ingram added 14 points and sophomore guard Jorden Talley contributed 11 points, six rebounds and eight assists.
The Seahawks scored the first eight points of the game and led wire-to-wire to give Keatts his third win in three tries against the Dukes. It marks the longest winning streak since the Seahawks strung together eight consecutive victories from Feb. 10, 2006 to Mar. 6, 2006.
After leading 8-0 after three minutes, the Seahawks settled into a workable margin and got the advantage back to 32-26 with 1:41 left in the period on a pair of free throws by Flemmings, who finished the opening period with 10 points.
UNCW returns to the floor on Saturday when the College of Charleston visits for a 7 p.m. tip-off in the annual Homecoming Game on campus.