Baltimore, MD – The CAA championship was a tightly contested game throughout. It was a battle of runs and in the end UNCW had the last run when it the counted most. UNCW battled back in the second half to force overtime against No. 1 seed Hofstra. Hofstra held a slight advantage during majority of the game but UNCW just would not go away. UNCW forced overtime as Hofstra star point guard Juan’ya Green’s half court attempt at the buzzer was off right. Both teams battled in overtime but the Seahawks made shots down the stretch. UNCW finished the game on a 7-0 run to defeat Hofstra 80-73. This marked UNCW’s first CAA title in ten years.
UNCW made the title game by defeating sixth seed Northeastern in the semi-finals 73-70. Star 6-5 junior shooting guard Chris Fleming led the way for the Seahawks by scoring 21 points and hitting four three-pointers. For Northeastern, 6-8 pro prospect and senior small forward Quincy Ford had 21 points and four rebounds.
Top seed Hofstra also had a run for their money in the semi-finals. William & Mary, No. 5 seed, played tough and used a career high 22 points and five three-pointers by 6-5 sophomore role player Greg Malinowski to stay close. In the end it was not enough as senior 6-6 small forward Ameen Tanksley led the winners with 23 points and seven rebounds. The clinching bucket was made by senior Denton Koon with eight seconds left, as Hofstra won 70-67.
In the title game, Tanksley, who was solid the entire tournament and scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half for Hofstra. Tanksley was too big for the undersized UNCW to handle down low. He used his big body and driving ability to force his way to the rim. Rokas Gustys, a 6-9, 259 pound sophomore from Lithuania, dominated the game on the glass and in the post. Gustys has a huge body and has a knack for getting position and being around all missed shots that carom off the rim. Gustys finished the game with a monster stat line of 18 points and 23 rebounds. His play this season has made his name known among NBA scouts. CAA player of the year and senior 6-3 point guard Juan’ya Green desperately struggled in the title game. He finished with just 13 points and eight assists, on just 2-of-16 shooting.
For the No. 2 seed UNCW their balance on offense was key to their success. The trio of 6-1 Craig Ponder, 6-0 Denzel Ingram and 6-5 Chris Flemmings combined for 56 points. Ponder, a senior combo guard, penetrated the lane well and finished against bigger defenders. He also chipped in two three-pointers and six rebounds. Ponder finished with 20 points. Dynamic junior point guard Denzel Ingram did a little bit of everything tonight. Ingram used his elite quickness and burst to get in the paint and finish or kick out to open shooters on the perimeter. Ingram despite his small physical stature is a very physical player. He finished with 17 points, four rebounds and six assists. Junior shooting guard Flemmings continued his impressive play as of late. Flemmings, who is slender in build, used his length to get to the bucket and cause problems for the perimeter defenders of Hofstra. He was consistent for the Seahawks and made key buckets when they needed it the most. In the tournament Flemmings shot 8-of-14 from three and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. That is a recipe for success in post-season play. Flemmings final stat line read, 19 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament Flemmings finished with 53 total points.
UNCW captured their first CAA title since 2006. UNCW does have one career NCAA tournament victory coming in 2002 against USC. This could be a very dangerous team for a potential upset in the first round. They are guard oriented and are very quick. They also have a quite a few players that can shoot the ball well from deep. UNCW will eagerly await their name being called on selection Sunday.
This article was written by Greg Walter, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
Any international players interested in coming to the USA to play in college, prep school or high school can contact us here. We are looking for interns and sales associates. If you’re interested contact us and forward your resume.