I came into my last holiday vacation day from work a bit excited for the doubleheader I was going to see in North Carolina. I was going to attend two conference games which figured to be even matchups with the first being Delaware coming down to UNC-Wilmington. It was the first CAA conference game I'd get to be at live, and while it was no VCU against Old Dominion, I was still looking forward to the game.
I knew as much about Blue Hen basketball as I did the previous UNCW opponent, the Furman Paladins, which was that they seem to be more focused on the football team as of late while the basketball team hasn't had a winning season in 7 years. After a little research, I did discover they had a good inside/outside combo of guard Devon Saddler and big man Jamelle Hagins.
This was my fourth time taking in the Seahawks and I was getting a bit familiar with the squad along with my surroundings, as some of the fans were looking familiar. I even got a few polite nods from a few people who were probably longtime season ticket holders that had recognized a new face that had been sitting in their section the past few home games.
Before tipoff I knew I had to get some food as it felt like I hadn't eaten in days. I'm sure all of us have come across people that love to complain about the price of food at sporting events and I'm guilty of it myself, but prices at most mid-major venues are usually reasonable. I don't think any of them can beat out Trask Coliseum though. I was able to get a hot dog, drink, and popcorn for $5. I challenge any school to beat that deal. I was a bit worried though to find out to my surprise when I open up my box of popcorn, that it was blue. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was actually teal, so another nice touch for the Seahawks.
The game itself was extremely competitive from the get-go. The entire first half it seemed as if both teams were matching each other shot for shot. It wasn't that the defense was poor, either, as the two squads were just executing well offensively. There were 11 lead changes throughout as neither team could establish any type of a run leading up 40-40 score at the half. Saddler was having a good game for the Blue Hens; Keith Rendleman was pacing the Seahawks while leading scorer Adam Smith sat on the bench for all but five minutes with two fouls.
The second half really couldn't keep pace with the great first as both teams came out sluggish and taking bad shots. It wasn't until about ten minutes to go that senior guard for UNCW Tanner Milson went on a personal 5-0 run to get the home crowd back into the game. Delaware's Kyle Anderson came right back down and responded with a 3 as the Blue Hens came back to tie the game. From that point on the game started to slog through a bunch of fouls as most of the points were earned from the line.
Wilmington was able to put the game out of reach with about three minutes left after Rendleman corralled one of his 18 rebounds on the night and converted on a three-point play to push the lead to nine. It was too much for Delaware to come back from as their threes weren't falling and the Seahawks iced the game at the line.
After the game, UNCW and Delaware have identical records of 5-7 and both are 1-1 in CAA play. I'm still wondering why it took me this long to finally catch a CAA game and while I know this wasn't a matchup of two of the league favorites, it was highly entertaining game. I'm not sure if Delaware is ready to turn the corner just yet, but the Seahawks are proving that they may be a tough out, at least on their home court, for the rest of the CAA.
at NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 80, DELAWARE 75 01/02/2012
DELAWARE 5-7 (1-1) -- D. Saddler 5-12 9-9 22; K. Anderson 2-10 1-2 7; J. Hagins 8-14 5-8 21; K. Lewis 0-6 0-0 0; J. Brinkley 4-7 3-5 11; J. Threatt 3-9 2-2 10; H. McCullar 1-2 1-2 3; K. McNeil 0-0 1-2 1; L. Savage 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-60 22-30 75. NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 5-7 (1-1) -- K. Rendleman 7-12 10-11 24; K. Simmons 3-6 0-0 7; C. Williams 2-6 6-6 10; A. Smith 4-9 2-2 10; T. Milson 3-11 2-2 10; D. Morales 2-6 0-0 5; M. Wilson 1-2 0-0 2; T. Deloach 1-3 5-8 7; F. Jackson 0-2 0-0 0; N. Anderson 2-4 1-1 5; S. Reybold 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-61 26-30 80.
Three-point goals: DEL 7-19 (D. Saddler 3-6; K. Lewis 0-1; J. Threatt 2-4; K. Anderson 2-8), UNCW 4-15 (T. Milson 2-5; D. Morales 1-2; N. Anderson 0-2; F. Jackson 0-1; K. Simmons 1-2; A. Smith 0-3); Rebounds: DEL 32 (J. Hagins 9), UNCW 42 (K. Rendleman 18); Assists: DEL 9 (D. Saddler 4), UNCW 9 (C. Williams 3); Total Fouls -- DEL 23, UNCW 20; Fouled Out: DEL-None; UNCW-None.