BOSTON — A herculean 27 point second half effort from T.J. Williams wasn’t enough to overcome a 20-point halftime deficit and the Northeastern Huskies fell at Matthews Arena to the UNCW Seahawks, 66-65 on Thursday night.
A 14-14 game at 9:23 in the first half quickly unraveled for the Huskies as a 15-4 Seahawk run led to a 39-19 Northeastern deficit at the half. Chris Flemmings led the surge for UNCW, scoring 20 points on 9-12 shooting in the first period of action.
“We have spurts where we play at a really high level and spurts like the first half where we really didn’t play at a high level,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen.
On the offensive end for Northeastern, nothing was falling. The Huskies shot just 26% (7-27) from the field and 18% (2-11) from deep.
The halftime message must have resonated because they came out of the locker a different team. Williams led the charge, getting to the rim and the line at will, scoring 24 of his 27 from the paint and the stripe. Williams ended the game with 33 points, a new career high.
“I thought [Williams] played a tremendous game today, extremely competitive and fought right to the buzzer against a really, really good Wilmington team,” said Coen
On the defensive end, the Husked tightened things up in the second half, holding UNCW to just 27 points on 21% shooting and just 9% from deep.
What kept the Seahawks afloat in the second half was a dominating performance on the offensive glass, led by Devontae Cacock, who had six offensive rebounds, all in the second half.
“They got a ton of offensive rebounds,” said Coen. “We needed to do a better job in that area to really finish off our defensive possessions.”
Up by three, with five seconds left, UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts elected to foul Williams and put him at the line instead of give the Huskies a chance to tie the game with a three. Williams went 1-2 from the line and two free throws on the other end from Denzel Ingram gave the Seahawks a four-point lead. A three from Williams at the buzzer wasn’t enough and the Huskies dropped back-to-back games at Matthews for the first time this season.
For the Seahawks, this win puts them at 23-5 (11-3 CAA) and keeps them a game up on College of Charleston in the CAA. For Northeastern, they fall to14-13 (7-8 CAA) and just one game away from missing out on a first round bye in the CAA tournament.
“It’s not like we haven’t been here before,” said Williams. “We know what it takes to win and I feel like we just have to put it together and get a W.”
Northeastern’s next game is senior night at Matthews Arena when they take on the College of Charleston Cougars on Saturday at 1pm. Coverage begins at 12:45 on 104.9FM or wrbbsports.com/listenlive.