PHILADELPHIA, PA March 1, 2013 – The UNCW men’s basketball team travels to Philadelphia for the first time in three seasons this weekend to battle preseason CAA favorite Drexel in the 2012-13 season finale for the Seahawks.
UNCW and Drexel go head-to-head on Saturday, March 2, at 7 p.m. in the cozy Daskalakis Center on the University City campus. A live video stream will be provided over DrexelDragons.com and the game will be carried on the radio in Wilmington on Sunny 104.5 FM and via the internet at www.1045SunnyFM.com. Live stats may be accessed on UNCWsports.com and live Twitter updates can be found @uncwmenshoops.
UNCW, 10-19 and 5-12 in the circuit, wraps up the year since the Seahawks will not be competing in next week’s CAA Tournament in Richmond due to APR issues. That leaves Saturday’s tilt as the swan song for seniors Keith Rendleman and Matt Rendleman and the rest of the team.
“We’re disappointed that we won’t be going to the CAA Tournament, so this is a big game for us,” said Buzz Peterson, UNCW’s third-year head coach. “We would really like to send Keith and Matt out on a positive note for everything they have done for us.”
Rendleman and Wilson made their final appearances at Trask Coliseum in Wednesday’s heartbreaking loss to William & Mary. The Seahawks erased a six-point deficit with 16 seconds remaining only to have Tribe junior forward Tim Rusthoven swish a free throw with 0.4 seconds left to hand the visitors a sweep of the regular season series.
“It’s always tough to lose that way,” Peterson reflected, “but it was especially difficult on senior night. We just have to put that behind us and try to find a way to beat a very good Drexel team at one of the toughest places to play in the conference.”
The Seahawks have dropped three straight outings and five of their last six contests. On top of that, UNCW owns a 1-14 road mark, joining Hofstra and Old Dominion as the only teams in the CAA with just one road victory.
“We’ve been searching all season for a way to become more consistent away from home,” said Peterson, who team finished 9-4 at Trask Coliseum. “We just haven’t executed well enough on both ends of the floor to win on the road.”
UNCW’s last road outing was a rocky one. ODU raced out to a 37-26 lead at halftime and breezed, 84-61, past the Seahawks last Wednesday at the Ted Constant Center in Norfolk, Va.
Seahawk senior forward Keith Rendleman, a preseason All-CAA selection, has been one of the CAA’s elite players this season, averaging a double-double of 16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds. He has racked up eight consecutive double-doubles, totaling 18 for the season and 40 for his career. The Iron Station, N.C., product became the school’s all-time leading rebounder in the ODU game and ranks among the CAA’s all-time best rebounders.
Rendleman makes his 123rd and final career appearance with the Seahawks and has 1,492 points (fifth all-time) and 1,042 rebounds (first all-time) on his stat line. He has been UNCW’s leading scorer in 19-of-29 games this season.
“Keith has carried us most of the year and it would be great to get him a win in his final college game,” said Peterson. “It won’t be easy because Drexel has a lot of weapons. They have strong guard play in the backcourt with (Frantz) Massenat, (Damion) Lee and (Derrick) Thomas and a formidable front line with (Daryl) McCoy and (Dartaye) Ruffin.
Drexel, which defeated ODU 81-77 on Thursday in Norfolk, will salute seniors Chris Fouch, Daryl McCoy and Derrick Thomas in pregame festivities. Lee paced the Dragons against the Monarchs with a career-high 34 points on 11-of-14 shooting, including 7-of-8 behind the arc. Lee, Massenat and Thomas combined for 69 of Drexel’s 81 points.
“It will be very important for our guys to focus on the task at hand and not get involved with the atmosphere since it’s a tight arena. We’re very capable of winning, but it will take a mammoth effort from everyone to accomplish this.”
UNCW won during its last visit to Philly on Feb. 24, 2010, when interim head coach Brooks Lee took the reeling Seahawks into the Dac and stunned the Dragons, 75-69. Senior guard Johnny Wolf led three players in double figures with 16 points and the Seahawks went 18-of-22 at the charity stripe in the upset.
Rendleman is the only player remaining that saw action in that contest, scoring two points with five rebounds in 24 minutes. Thomas, McCoy and Fouch each played in the game for the Dragons, with Fouch leading the team with 15 points.
The 6-8, 220-pound Rendleman has started all four games he’s played against Bruiser Flint’s club, averaging 12.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. Rendleman is 2-2 vs. Drexel in those contests.
The Seahawks had lost 16 consecutive road games before taking down Hofstra, 57-51, on Jan. 26 in Hempstead, N.Y. Since then, Peterson’s club has dropped four straight road games since then by an average of 14.3 ppg.
UNCW and Drexel are playing for the 21st time overall and eighth time in February. UNCW leads the series by a 12-8 margin, but the two teams have split eight games in Philadelphia.