BUIES CREEK- Coach Kevin Keatts asked sophomore scoring guard C.J. Bryce to ramp up his game and the Charlotte product responded on Wednesday night, erupting for a career-high 26 points as UNCW set a record for the best start in school history with a 96-75 victory over Campbell at Gore Arena.
The Seahawks extended their winning streak to six games and are off to a school-best 9-1 start, eclipsing the 8-1 opening in 1992-93. The Camels, returning to the floor following a nine-day layoff for exams, are now 5-5 on the new season.
“We played really hard in the second half and got some easy baskets in transition,” said Keatts, who avenged a loss to the Camels two years ago in Buies Creek. “Our depth really helped us tonight.
“I’m excited about setting the record for the best start, but we realize it’s only 10 games. We’re just grateful for the nine wins.”
Bryce led all scorers in the contest with his 26 points, besting a 25-point effort in a 126-113 handling of Pfeiffer 11 days ago. Bryce wound up hitting 8-of-14 shots from the field and added 8-of-11 attempts at the charity stripe with four assists to help the Seahawks move to 6-1 away from Trask Coliseum in 2016-17.
“I thought C.J. was really aggressive tonight,” Keatts added. “I challenged him and I thought he played really well. It was nice to find a way for some other guys to score.”
Sophomore forward Devontae Cacok added his fourth double-double of the season with 18 points – including four slams – and 10 rebounds and redshirt sophomore guard JaQuel Richmond chipped in 11 points.
The Seahawks scooted out to a 41-32 advantage and led by as many as 24 points late in the contest before notching the 25th double digit win in Keatts’ three years on the bench. It was also UNCW’s first win in four tries at Gore Arena.
After carving out the nine-point lead at the break, the Seahawks withstood an early run by the Camels, who narrowed the deficit to five points just five minutes into the final period.
UNCW posted its largest lead of the game with 4:43 left to play when Denzel Ingram drained a triple from the top of the key for an 85-61 bulge.
The Seahawks shot 55.2 percent on the night, marking the fourth time in the last five outings UNCW has bettered the 50 percent mark.
The Seahawks return to Trask Coliseum for their final two games before Christmas break beginning with a weekend date against Radford on Keatts Saturday (Dec. 17) at 2 p.m., followed by a Tuesday (Dec. 20) matchup with rival East Carolina.