WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP)Dalton Bolon scored 16 points and No. 22 College of Charleston held off UNC Wilmington 71-69 in their Colonial Athletic Association showdown Wednesday night to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 16 games.
Ante Brzovic and Ryan Larson had 13 points apiece as the Cougars (17-1, 5-0 CAA) ended the Seahawks’ 13-game win streak, the longest in program history.
”They’re a championship-caliber team. We’ll see them again (on Feb. 8) and it’ll be an absolute battle like it was tonight,” Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said.
Larson added seven assists and four rebounds to help the Cougars overcome 39% shooting from the field.
Trazarien White had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead UNCW (14-4, 4-1). Jamari Thomas also scored 16, including two big 3-pointers in the second half.
”It’s always hard with the crowd and how big the game is, but I felt like we handled it pretty well,” said White, the Seahawks’ leading scorer this season. ”We stuck to our game plan in the second half and kept pushing.”
The Seahawks took their first lead on a step-back jumper from Maleeck Harden-Hayes with just over four minutes to play.
Larson’s layup put the Cougars back on top with just over a minute left, and Jaylon Scott’s block on Shykeim Philips all but sealed the win.
”Two grown men making grown men plays. Two of our leaders,” Kelsey said. ”Ryan made a huge shot, Jaylon got a huge stop.”
Ben Burnham had 12 points off the bench on 5-of-7 shooting for Charleston, knocking down both his 3-point attempts.
From start to finish, the energy inside Trask Coliseum was felt by both teams. Kelsey thought the environment and UNC Wilmington’s relentless play created a challenge for the Cougars.
”Rivalries are great. Rivalries are cool. It’s what college basketball is all about,” he said. ”And this atmosphere tonight is what college basketball is all about.”
College of Charleston: Since dropping their second game of the season to then-No. 1 North Carolina, the Cougars’ perfect run has brought the team national attention.
UNC Wilmington: The Seahawks’ first loss since Nov. 18 came in one of the program’s most anticipated regular-season matchups ever.
”I thought the chaos around us didn’t allow us to focus in like I wanted us to,” coach Takayo Siddle said. ”(Charleston) came out and punched us in the mouth. They were way tougher. I thought they outcompeted us. I think in the first half we were just trying to hold on.”
College of Charleston: Returns home to play Elon on Saturday.
UNC Wilmington: Will host William and Mary at Trask Coliseum on Saturday.
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