WILMINGTON, NC Feb. 26, 2013 – With his position in UNCW men’s basketball lore firmly in place, senior forward Keith Rendleman joins teammate Matt Wilson at Trask Coliseum for the last time Wednesday night when the two veterans help the Seahawks take on William & Mary in a Colonial Athletic Association rematch.
The Seahawks, 10-18 overall and 5-11 in the CAA, battle the Tribe in a 7 p.m. tip-off. W&M, 12-15 and 6-10, is just ahead of UNCW in the league standings and Wednesday’s clash has the potential to be another shootout reminiscent of the wild 92-86 affair won by the Tribe two weeks ago in Williamsburg, Va.
Rendleman and Wilson, both North Carolina products, will be honored in special pre-game ceremonies that begin at 6:50 p.m. The contest can be heard locally on Sunny 104.5 FM and via the internet at www.1045SunnyFM.com. Live stats may be found on UNCWsports.com and live Twitter updates will be provided on @uncwmenshoops.
“William & Mary has a very good ball club,” said third-year UNCW skipper Buzz Peterson. “They are really scoring right now and shoot the ball very well. They’re very good in transition offense. We’ll have to do a much better job defending them.”
The Tribe, one of the most balanced teams in the 11-team CAA, was held to its lowest point total in seven games last weekend when George Mason prevailed, 60-58, in Fairfax, Va. Coach Tony Shaver’s team shot just 37.6 percent from the floor and committed 13 turnovers in the difficult road loss.
W&M’s three-headed guard combo of Marcus Thornton, Brandon Britt and Matt Rum matches up with any other team in the league. Thornton torched the Seahawks for 25 points in the first meeting and ranks second behind Delaware’s Devon Saddler – UNCW’s last opponent – in the CAA in scoring. Britt added 22 points and Rum chipped in eight for the Pride in the series opener.
“Marcus Thornton is one of the better players in the league,” Peterson added. “He’s quick and a tough matchup for anyone to guard. I really like Brandon Britt, and he’s really turned it up lately. Most of their players have been with Tony for a while and they understand the offense now.”
Thornton is averaging 18.6 ppg, junior forward Tim Rusthoven is collecting 14.1 ppg and 7.3 rpg and Britt is chipping in 13.9 ppg. The Tribe is the best shooting team in the CAA at 46.0 percent and leads the loop in assist/turnover ratio.
W&M stands 4-11 on the road this season and 1-7 in conference road games, posting its lone CAA road win at Old Dominion.
Peterson and his troops remember the first loss to the Tribe all too well. The Seahawks fell behind by 25 points with 11:44 remaining, but closed the gap to one possession with just over a minute left to play before falling for the first time in four seasons at Kaplan Arena.
“It’s always interesting when you play someone this quickly for a second time,” said veteran W&M Head Coach Tony Shaver. “Offensively, we were about as good as we could be the first time around. We had a very difficult time stopping them in the second half. We made just enough plays down the stretch to win.”
The Seahawks are 9-4 at home with victories over CAA heavyweights Northeastern, George Mason and Georgia State. UNCW almost pulled off another upset last Saturday, but lost 79-78 when junior guard Chris Dixon’s shot bounced off the rim with three seconds remaining.
“We had the ball in our hands with a chance to win it,” reflected Peterson. “Chris was disappointed with the shot at the end, but he had a very good floor game.”
Rendleman has done about everything possible this season. He leads the team in scoring (16.5 ppg) and rebounding (10.5) with six consecutive double-doubles and 18 overall. The 6-8, 220-pounder has been a beast on the glass, pulling down double digits in rebounding in the last seven outings and in 18-of-28 games this season.
“Keith’s meant a lot to us,” said Peterson. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t win more games and that we’re not going to the postseason. He gets rebounds all over the place and we’re going to miss him a great deal.”
Rendleman and Wilson have combined to play in 207 games over the last four seasons, scoring a collective 1,699 points and grabbing 1,220 rebounds. Rendleman has started 106 games and Wilson has opened 23 contests.
“Keith and Matt have been outstanding young men and student-athletes,” Peterson said. “We’re fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know them and work with them. We’re confident they will both be successful in the future.”
UNCW leads the 60-game series with the Tribe by a 40-20 margin and has won 20 of the 29 meetings at Trask Coliseum. The Seahawks have won two straight and seven of the last 10 games in Wilmington.
Following Wednesday’s tilt, the Seahawks travel to Philadelphia for a season-ending matchup with Drexel. The Seahawks and Dragons tangle at 7 p.m. Saturday in the only game of the season between the two teams.