ORLANDO, Florida – Defensive minded Virginia clamped down and used a big run midway through the second half to pull away from No. 12-seeded UNCW, winning 76-71, in the first-round of the NCAA’s Orlando Men’s Basketball Regional early Thursday at the Amway Center.
The Cavaliers, 23-10, advanced to Saturday’s second-round game and will play No. 4-seeded Florida. The Gators topped East Tennessee State, 80-65, in the final game of the first session in Orlando.
Virginia senior guard London Perrantes led all scorers with 24 points and erupted for 19 after intermission. The slippery Perrantes made a layup as the shot clock expired with 1:31 left to give Cavaliers a 71-66 advantage to gain enough separation from the pesky Seahawks.
Senior guard Chris Flemmings anchored four UNCW players in double digits with 18 points in his final collegiate game. Backcourt mate Denzel Ingram collected 17 points, graduate guard Ambrose Mosley knocked down a couple of early trifectas and contributed 14 points. Sophomore forward Devontae Cacok wound up with his 13th double-double of the season with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
The Seahawks jumped out to a double-digit lead early before Virginia rallied for a 30-29 edge at halftime. Virginia shot 50 percent on the day on 26-of-52 field goals and UNCW finished at 41.0 percent behind 25-of-61 shots. UVa’s bench outscored the Seahawks’ reserves, 28-2.
Behind Mosley’s hot shooting UNCW came out firing with its patented long-distance attack and put the ‘Hoos on their heels early. After a driving layup by Perrantes cut UNCW’s early margin to 15-11 at 11:25, the Seahawks outscored the Cavaliers 16-2 over the next seven minutes to bolt out to a 15-point cushion.
Trailing, 28-14, Virginia roared back with a 12-0 run over a 2:19 stretch to cut into UNCW’s margin and then took a 30-29 lead into intermission.
The Seahawks are 1-6 in NCAA Tournament games following the program’s ninth postseason appearance in school history. UNCW closed out its historic season with a 29-6 record, setting numerous individual and team records.