The 12 seed UNC Wilmington Seahawks gave 5 seed Virginia a scare in Orlando on Thursday afternoon. However, a pair of big runs from Virginia proved to be too much for the Seahawks to overcome, as the Cavaliers escaped 76-71.
The Seahawks jumped out to a 15-point lead less than 13 minutes into the game. A combination of efficient transition offense and hot three-point shooting proved effective against Virginia’s top-ranked defense. The Cavaliers are the nation’s No. 1 defense in terms of efficiency and their pack-line defense is well known in college basketball circles. Bu, the Seahawks prevented Virginia from setting that defense up in transition and both Ambrose Mosley and Denzel Ingram were able to shoot over the top of the Cavaliers’ defense.
Then the final 7:25 of the first half went about as poorly as UNCW could have hoped. Virginia closed the half on a 19-3 run to take a 30-29 lead into halftime. Marial Shayok scored nine for the Cavaliers during the run which would prove pivotal in the game.
The Seahawks were able to keep things close to kick off the second half. Another Mosley three briefly gave UNCW a 45-44 lead. But another extended Virginia run put the game out of reach. A 10-0 run from the Cavaliers gave Virginia a nine-point lead. Against the nation’s top ranked defense, UNCW was not able to recover from that deficit and never led again.
UNCW performed well against Virginia’s defense. Virginia only surrenders about 56 points per game on average, but the Seahawks beat that mark by 15. Chris Flemmings led the scoring effort with 18. Devontae Cacok put up a double-double for the Seahawks with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
But a Virginia team not normally known for its offense managed to beat UNCW on that end of the floor. Shayok ended with a career high in points, scoring 23 for the Cavaliers. London Perrantes helped lift Virginia as well with 24 points of his own.