TOWSON, MD Feb. 4, 2013 – Towson dominated play inside with 48 points in the paint en route to an 81-68 victory over UNCW on Monday night, completing a sweep of the regular season men’s basketball series at the Towson Center.
The Tigers won their second straight to square their record at 12-12 and 7-4 in the CAA. The Seahawks dropped both games on their two-swing to the mid-Atlantic region and fell to 8-14 and 3-7.
Towson, which defeated UNCW 79-74 back on Jan. 2 in Wilmington, shot 52.6 percent from the floor to hand the Seahawks a loss in their final appearance in the arena. The Tigers are moving into a new 5,200-seat facility next door in 2013-14.
Towson junior forward Jerelle Benimon led all players with 20 points and added 12 rebounds for his NCAA-leading 16th double-double of the season, Freshman playmaker Jerome Hairston added 18 points, junior guard Rafriel Guthrie chipped in 14 and junior guard Marcas Damas had 12.
Senior forward Keith Rendleman paced the Seahawks with 19 points and 12 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season and 34th of his career. Redshirt freshman Craig Ponder collected 12 points and junior guard Chris Dixon and junior forward Shane Reybold contributed 11 points apiece to give UNCW four players in double figures for the first time this season.
“They’re a very talented team,” said third-year UNCW head coach Buzz Peterson. “I think they scored on seven of the last eight possessions in the first half and they hit a couple crazy shots against our zone. We gave up too many second and third chances and that hurt.”
The Tigers, behind Benimon and Hairston, shot 57.1 percent in the first half to build a 42-32 lead at the break. Hairston scored 14 of his total in the first 20 minutes and Benimon went for 13 points early in the contest.
UNCW was still hanging around midway through the second half and trailed by just six points, 54-48, after Ponder dropped in a pair of free throws with 12:45 remaining.
But Towson scored the next 11 points behind Damas to pull away. Damas scored five straight points and two free throws by reserve forward Timajh Parker-Rivera extended the lead to 65-48 with 8:54 left.
Towson then enjoyed its largest lead, 79-55, when Hairston hit a floater in the lane before the Seahawks closed out the game by scoring 13 of the final 15 points.
After the Seahawks inched out to an 11-7 advantage on a jumper by Ponder, the Tigers reeled off 12 straight points for a 19-11 lead. Five different players scored and Mike Burwell’s steal and layup at 9:47 gave the Tigers an eight-point cushion.
UNCW answered with a 12-0 run of its own. Dylan Sherwood started the spurt with a triple from the right wing and Reybold’s twisting hook shot put the Seahawks ahead, 23-19, with 6:40 left in the opening period.
Towson closed out the first half strong, however, to take a 10-point lead into the lockerroom. After Cedrick Williams tipped in a miss to cut TU’s lead to 35-32, the Tigers scored the final seven points of the half and Hairston’s fadeway jumper with one second left in the first half gave the Tigers a working margin at halftime.
The Seahawks return home to open a two-game homestand Wednesday against Georgia State at 7 p.m. The Tigers entertain Delaware on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
GAME NOTES: UNCW still owns a 16-12 advantage in the series…The Seahawks finished 6-8 in 14 games at the Towson Center…Keith Rendleman made his eighth and final appearance against the Tigers…The Seahawks are 5-20 on the road under Buzz Peterson…UNCW used its 10th different starting lineup of the season…The Seahawks are 0-2 in February and 7-5 this month all-time against the Tigers…Neither team will be playing in the CAA Tournament due to APR issues…There were seven dunks in the contest, including three consecutive by UNCW to end the game…Reybold scored first for the Seahawks for the third straight game…The Seahawks had just nine turnovers…Towson outrebounded UNCW, 39-36…Marcus Graham had two points and three rebounds in the last three minutes of the contest…It was the third time this season the Seahawks had allowed more than 80 points.