The UNCW men’s basketball team continued its torrid run on Saturday, cranking out its school-record 11th consecutive victory with an 86-78 pounding of James Madison before a sellout crowd in a nationally televised game on NBC Sports Network at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks maintained their hold on first place in the Colonial Athletic Association standings and stand 20-5 and 12-2 in the conference. It marks the first 20-win season for the program in eight years and the sixth in school history.
The Dukes had a three-game winning streak halted and own a 19-8 overall record and 9-5 league mark.
Senior guard Craig Ponder anchored three players in double figures for the Seahawks with 19 points, while junior guard Chris Flemmings scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Flemmings notched his fourth double-double of the season and added three assists in another all-around effort.
“James Madison is a scrappy bunch,” said Kevin Keatts, UNCW’s second-year coach. “They did a very good job on the defensive end. They made us work for every basket that we got. We got some stops in the second half. I thought our press came into play.”
UNCW raced out to a 42-29 lead at intermission and withstood a brief charge by the Dukes before cruising down the stretch for its 14th home win in the last 15 games spanning over to last season.
The Seahawks registered their largest lead of the game, 75-56, on a pair of free throws by reserve forward Marcus Bryan. JMU never got closer than eight points in the second half.
“All the credit goes to Wilmington at both ends of the court,” said eighth-year JMU Head Coach Matt Brady. “You have to be poised for 40 minutes against this group and I think we lost our poise for four or five minutes and that cost us the game. They play with speed, quickness and tenacity and you have to match up with them…it’s a little bit uncomfortable.
In the first half, JMU forged out to an 18-16 lead midway through the period, but the Seahawks answered with a 26-6 run to take control, including an 11-0 spurt that was capped by a three-pointer from the acrobatic Flemmings that gave UNCW a 42-24 cushion at 1:43.
Talley turned in a solid first half, scoring nine points, while Ponder, Flemmings and Ingram each contributed eight points in a balanced attack as the Seahawks scored 10 points off seven JMU turnovers to set the tone early.
The Seahawks return to the court on Thursday, Feb. 18, with a matchup against second-place William & Mary at Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg, Va.