Seahawks Hold Off Cougar Rally to Stay Unbeaten in CAA
By: Jeff Walker, Sportswriter
Coming into their Monday night matchup against UNC Wilmington, the College of Charleston men’s basketball were holding on to a one game winning streak. The Cougars last victory was on Sunday January 9th when they held off Elon in a late game thriller 65-61. They began preparing for William & Mary the following day only to have Tuesday’s game postponed due to COVID.
Safe to say the schedule has been up and down with the current pandemic threat taking its toll on teams. Hosting the Seahawks Monday night, the Cougars were eager to get another CAA win for first year head coach Pat Kelsey. After 40 minutes of hard-fought action including a game high 27 points from John Meeks the home team could not clip the Seahawks, falling 86-78 to UNCW. CofC move to 9-6 overall and 1-2 in the league, with UNCW improving to 9-5 while remaining unbeaten in the CAA at 3-0.
The Seahawks controlled the tip, lighting up the scoreboard early on as Jaylen Sims drained a long-range missile after just 23 seconds had elapsed. The action was fast paced with the game tied at seven apiece after three minutes of play. That’s when CofC hit their stride, getting behind an 11-3 run to go up 18-10 just under the 13-minute mark.
But UNCW would not lay down putting together their own 19-5 run to move ahead 29-23 five minutes before intermission. A last-minute spurt helped the home team, as Charleston went into the locker room trailing 36-34 at the break.
The Cougars came out a little amped up in the second period. Eight points by Reyne Smith including two from long range helped CofC tie the contest at 46 all with 14:51 left to play. But the Seahawks were consistent on offense. When Jaylen Fornes hit from beyond the arc the visitors went up 59-52 near the midway mark.
Three minutes later a layup by Dimitrius Underwood for the Cougars would make it a one possession game (63-61). Another three-minute burst found the Seahawks up by eight (72-64). With the game clock under two minutes Charleston was forced to foul where Shykeim Phillips was a perfect 4 for 4 from the line, with Sims adding a couple to keep CofC from within striking distance, even though a big 3-pointer by Meeks made it 80-76 with 55 ticks on the clock.
Meeks finished with 27 points going 10 of 16 from the field with two 3-pointers. Coming in off the bench Smith was hot in the second half, ending the game 5 of 8 from beyond the arc for 17 points. Underwood chipped in 13 points, hauling in a game best nine rebounds.
UNCW had three players finish in double figures with Sims and Phillips doing most of the offensive lifting. The two Seahawks scored 24 and 20 respectively adding nine points from the foul line. Much like Smith for CofC, Fornes came in off the bench going 6 of 8, including 3 of 3 from long range to add 16 points for the winning team.
The two stats that hurt the Cougars the most were shooting 12 of 23 (52%) from the foul line and turning the ball over 18 times which lead to 21 points for the Seahawks.
Charleston will hope to get back on track as they hit the road later this week. CofC play at Towson on Thursday followed by a game at James Madison on Saturday. The Cougars next home game is slated for Tuesday January 25th when they host William & Mary. With make-up games due to COVID cancellations CofC have five games in a ten day stretch and seven over a 15-day period ahead of them.
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