WILMINGTON, N.C. - Cedric Williams scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as UNC Wilmington downed UNC Asheville 67-59 Sunday afternoon at Trask Coliseum.
The Bulldogs (1-1) trailed by one late in the game, but the Seahawks scored seven straight points late in the game to take control and picked up their 11th straight victory over Asheville.
"We just didn't play well enough today," stated Bulldog coach Eddie Biedenbach. "We had too many turnovers and took some quick shots. Our execution on offense just wasn't good enough and we still almost won. This is a tough one to lose because if we play well we win."
Asheville was led by Jeremy Atkinson with 17 points, while D.J. Cuninngham just missed a double-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots. Trent Meyer finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
UNCW led 56-55 with less than three minutes remaining when the home team scored seven points in a 30-second sequence to break open the contest.
Meyer was called for a foul at the 2:22 mark that as the Seahawks had the ball. Cunningham was then whistled for a technical foul for hitting the backboard after the play. UNCW hit all four free throws to lead 60-55.
After a Bulldog miss on the other end, Tyree Graham hit a long three-pointer to push the Seahawk lead to 63-55. Asheville could get no closer the rest of the game.
"Obviously that was a big sequence but if we had taken better care of the ball, not given up so many offensive rebounds and executed offense better we would have been fine," admitted Biedenbach. "We just need to learn from this game and get ready for Tennessee in Puerto Rico."
Asheville had a tough day on offense with 22 turnovers. The Bulldogs shot just .345 (20-of-58) from the field and .118 (2-of-17) from the three-point line. Asheville had not sunk a three-pointer this season until Atkinson knocked down a trey midway through the second half.
"We've got some good shooters but when you take quick shots, you just don't shoot the ball as well," stated Biedenbach.
Freshman Will Weeks had another good game off the bench with nine points, four assists and three steals. Marcus Neely had five points and two steals.
After battling to a 27-all draw in the first 20 minutes, UNCW used a dunk by Williams and a bank shot in the paint by Luke Hager to build a 36-31 lead at 15:16.
Asheville used a seven-point outburst to get the score back to 50-45, but Williams scored a bucket inside and added both ends of a bonus situation to slice the lead back to 50-49 with just under six minutes showing. The two teams traded buckets before the Seahawks broke away late.
Both teams came out frosty in the early going, combining for 8-of-24 shooting, before the Seahawks inched out to a 13-8 margin. Williams followed up his own shot in the lane with 10:21 to go in the first period to give the Seahawks an early advantage.
The Bulldogs rallied to grab the lead, however, with a 10-2 spurt over the next four minutes. Cunningham did most of the damage, scoring six points in the run, and a floater in the lane by Weeks gave the Bulldogs an 18-15 edge with 6:35 remaining in the first period.
UNCW still trailed by six points with 2:39 left in the first half until back-to-back triples by Dylan Sherwood and Graham and another baseline jumper by Sherwood pulled the Seahawks even at the break.
UNC Asheville travels to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament later this week as the Bulldogs will play three games in the tourney. Asheville opens play against Tennessee on Thursday (Nov. 15) at 12:30 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPNU and broadcast locally on WWNC Radio (570-AM).