UNCW hoops one win away from CAA title, NCAA Tournament; Watch semifinal highlights

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Redshirt junior guard Chris Flemmings scored a team-high 21 points and deflected a Northeastern pass attempt to set up a final shot as the Seahawks held on for a 73-70 victory over the Huskies in the second semifinal game of the Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship at Royal Farms Arena on Sunday.

The second-seeded Seahawks raised their record to 24-7 and advance to Monday’s 7 p.m. tournament championship game against top-seeded Hofstra, a 70-67 winner over fifth-seeded William & Mary in Sunday’s opening semifinal game.

Chris Flemmings had a big night for UNCW on Sunday. Photo courtesy- CAA Sports
Chris Flemmings had a big night for UNCW on Sunday. Photo courtesy- CAA Sports

Flemmings hit on six of nine shots, including four of five attempts from three-point range, and had five rebounds in 39 minutes.  The first-team All-CAA performer had two three-pointers during a 16-2 scoring run that gave UNCW a 55-42 lead. His free throw with 1.4 seconds remaining provided the game’s final points. Northeastern erased most of a 10-point deficit during the final 1:05 before a length of the court pass attempt failed to set up a final shot.

UNCW led 64-52 with 3:58 to play and 69-59 on two Flemmings’ free throws with 1:14 left.  But, Northeastern got four points from senior guard David Walker around a missed UNCW free throw, a field goal after a Seahawk five-second in-bounds violation and four points from redshirt senior forward/guard Quincy Ford to pull to within 70-69 with 14.5 seconds remaining.

Redshirt junior guard Denzel Ingram tallied 14 points and Ponder added 11 points for UNCW. Ingram also had a game-high eight assists.

Redshirt sophomore forward Marcus Bryan’s layup gave UNCW a 41-40 lead with 16:16 to play and started the surge that gave the Seahawks their 55-42 advantage with 10:24 remaining.

Neither team led by more than four points during a first half that featured nine lead changes and six ties. The teams combined to commit only five turnovers.  Williams led all first-half scorers with 10 points in 15 minutes off the bench, and Flemmings paced UNCW during the opening half with eight points, including two three-point field goals.

UNCW will be making its 10th CAA title game appearance and first since 2006.  The Seahawks, CAA members since 1985-86, have won four CAA crowns (2000, 2002, 2003, 2006).  UNCW and Hofstra met in the 2006 CAA championship game.

UNCW and Hofstra, which tied for CAA regular-season title (Hofstra won the league tiebreaker for the top tournament seed), split regular-season meetings with each rallying from a large deficit to win on the other’s court.  UNCW won 70-67 at Hofstra Feb. 4 after trailing by 20 points late during the opening half.  Hofstra overcame an 18-point late first-period deficit to win 70-69 Feb. 25 at UNCW.