I was in a good mood as I drove to Wilmington to watch UNCW vs Davidson for an afternoon tilt. I was in the middle of a 4 day weekend, it was a nice day outside and teams below the red line had been racking up the upsets. I decided to arrive to Wilmington a little bit earlier this time just so I could check out the historic downtown. There was a mix of tourists and locals walking around as everyone seemed to be in good spirits. There are plenty of things to do downtown as took more mental notes of where everything was. There is a plethora of shops, bars and restaurants along with a farmers market along the waterfront. I only had about an hour, so this was a spot I'd have to come back to when I had more time.
I made my way over to the arena and it's always nicer when you are more familiar with your surroundings, as I had just been there on Tuesday. There were plenty of Davidson fans around the arena who were all very polite and excited that the Wildcats and Seahawks were playing for the first time since 1995. I was surprised to hear this since it seemed like a no brainer for the two to schedule each other since, as we all know, it can be difficult for many mids to schedule. There were less Wilmington fans today than the game I saw 4 days previous. The pep band was missing this time and the cheerleading and dance squad was cut down by a few members.
The Seahawks came out and got the early lead with some balanced scoring. Davidson could not establish any offense in the half court as the Seahawks were locking down defensively. The Wildcats could only get points early in transition as the 3's weren't falling for them. That is until about the 10 minute mark when UNCW started turning over a lot more and JP Kuhlman started heating up for the Wildcats.
When the game was tied at 25 with about 5 minutes to go it almost felt like both teams decided to turn it up a notch. The game got very entertaining from that point on as Wilmington was relying on the inside scoring and high energy of junior forward Keith Rendleman while Davidson would answer with Kuhlman and a variety of 3 point shots. The crowd was getting into it as the entertaining 1st half ended with the Wildcats up 1.
At halftime I wondered about Rendleman. He's like a lot of mid major power forwards, he's a bit undersized and mostly relies on hustle and energy to be a defensive and rebounding force. He also has the long braids that fly around whenever he makes an athletic play. Is there a mid major PF with long braids or dreads that doesn't play with hustle and energy? Rendleman is no Rastabeast, but we may be on to something here.
As the 2nd half started I thought one of the two teams would be able to pull away and establish a lead, but the rest of the game was back and forth with the largest lead only 5 as there would be 13 ties throughout the whole game. The Wildcats started shooting fewer 3's and established a post game with De'mon Brooks. Rendleman and freshman frontcourt mate Cedrick Williams responded with their inside play as they were able to foul out Brooks and 2 other big men for Davidson.
With 2 minutes left Davidson guard Chris Czerapowicz sunk a driving lay up for a two 68-66 lead. Wilmington was unable to get several defensive rebounds until they were able to gain possession with 13 seconds to go. After a quick timeout Williams was fouled after a putback miss, he was able to make the 1st, but missed the 2nd. Kuhlman was able sink his free throws on the other end and Tanner Milson's half court heave went wide left giving Davidson the 70-67 victory.
It was an awesome game and as fan who didn't have a dog in the fight, I really enjoyed the effort both teams put forth. Davidson looks good and seems to be on the rise in year 3 post-Curry. Wilmington is still trying to figure it all out. The inability to even attempt a 3, they were 0-3 the whole game, is really hampering them, but its a young team that just needs a breakout win. I'll be looking forward to watching both teams progress as the season goes on.
DAVIDSON 70, at NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 67 11/26/2011
DAVIDSON 4-1 (0-0) -- J. Kuhlman 6-11 6-7 21; T. Droney 1-2 0-1 3; N. Cochran 4-9 3-3 13; C. Czerapowicz 4-11 0-1 9; D. Brooks 6-13 2-3 14; T. Kalinoski 0-3 0-0 0; C. Mann 4-7 0-3 8; W. Reigel 0-0 2-2 2; J. Cohen 0-5 0-0 0; F. Ben-Eze 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-61 13-20 70. NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 0-4 (0-0) -- K. Rendleman 9-13 3-5 21; A. Smith 6-12 2-3 14; D. Morales 0-3 8-8 8; C. Williams 3-3 4-9 10; K. Simmons 2-2 0-0 4; C. Ponder 2-5 1-2 5; M. Wilson 1-1 0-0 2; F. Jackson 0-2 1-2 1; T. Milson 0-4 0-0 0; T. Deloach 1-2 0-0 2; D. Sherwood 0-1 0-0 0; N. Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-48 19-29 67.
Three-point goals: DAV 7-24 (J. Kuhlman 3-6; N. Cochran 2-4; J. Cohen 0-1; D. Brooks 0-1; C. Czerapowicz 1-7; T. Droney 1-2; T. Kalinoski 0-3), UNCW 0-3 (T. Milson 0-2; A. Smith 0-1); Rebounds: DAV 32 (J. Kuhlman 7), UNCW 36 (K. Rendleman 9); Assists: DAV 11 (T. Droney 4), UNCW 7 (F. Jackson 2); Total Fouls -- DAV 22, UNCW 19; Fouled Out: DAV-D. Brooks; UNCW-K. Rendleman.