I didn't think at the beginning of the season I'd be traveling as much as I have or going to as many games as I have been to so far, but there I was, making the drive to Wilmington for the 2nd game in what is becoming a customary Saturday doubleheader.
I wasn't too pumped as I had been on previous weekends because in UNCW's last game they looked tired and were whipped in every part of the game against Georgia St. I wasn't sure if the Seahawks had given up on the season. It is a very young team, so losing 7 of 8 can be tough on a team that lacks experience. The saving grace for the Seahawks would be that the opponent on the night was William & Mary. The Tribe were losers of seven straight, so one of the teams would be coming away with some sort of positive.
I was able to convince a workmate, also named Matt, to join me for a game. Matt, being a UNCW alum, was hesitant since the team hadn't seen much success in his years going there. I assured him that since W&M wasn't an elite team in the CAA that the Seahawks would have a good shot at winning.
I met Matt across campus at PT's Grille where we had some burgers and a few libations. It was homecoming for UNCW and a Saturday night game, so we figured that since a good majority of the student body would be a bit sauced, we'd have a couple as well.
With it being homecoming I figured there would be a decent crowd, but I was glad to see it was a fairly packed house. The students were noisy and it had the feel of a big game even though the combined record for the teams was 14-34.
You could tell the home team was feeding off the larger than normal crowd. The Seahawks didn't come out passive and the a bunch of players were getting in on the action. In this tough stretch of games for the Seahawks it has been Keith Rendleman trying to do too much. This night was different as Trevor Deloach was shooting well early for the Seahawks.
William & Mary didn't get blown out right away though, they kept the game tight for the first 10 minutes as UNCW had a 16-15 lead. Tim Rusthoven and Quinn McDowell were doing all they could to silence the home crowd.
The Seahawks blew the game open from that point on though with an unanswered 16 point surge. Tanner Milson and Adam Smith were keys to the run as Wilmington was getting production from players that had been in bad shooting slumps. The Tribe went nearly 7 minutes without scoring, but they were able to chop into the lead before the half and were down 9.
Halftime was mostly dedicated to homecoming activities and I soon found out why the crowd was so big. Many of the sororities had come out in force just to see who the homecoming king and queen would be. (That also explained why the cheers in the 1st half were much higher pitched than normal.) Once the half festivities ended a ton of the girls had seen enough, so they headed for the exits. I figured it sucked for UNCW since it felt like they really fed from the fan support in the 1st half.
I wondered how the Seahawks would respond with a less rowdy crowd, but they came out blazing. They didn't miss a 3 pointer the rest of the game (5 for 5) and roared out to an 18 point advantage. This was a completely different team than I had seen in the past few weeks. They were playing with confidence and had some swagger to them. To William & Mary's credit, they didn't quit when the big runs came. McDowell was having a big game as he ended up with 27 points on the night. He just wasn't getting any help from his teammates because they were getting the open looks, but the shots weren't going down.
I want to take a second to say that if you are not a fan of DJ Khaled's "All I Do Is Win" then you might want to avoid sporting events for the next year or so, because the fans love it. UNCW especially overkills the song as I heard the band play it twice and it blared over the PA about 3 times. I even heard it in the background during the postgame show on the radio. I know it gets the crowd going, but it should only be played when victory is imminent or the game is over, not during the first few minutes of the game or when the home team is getting blown out.
Winning for the Seahawks is not all they do, but tonight would be their night for a victory. The Tribe couldn't get the game closer than 10 points and the boisterous homecoming crowd got to have a great time on their homecoming. It's amazing what a little fan support will do and the Seahawks will need all the advantages they can get with George Mason and VCU being their last two remaining home games.
By the way, I also need to mention that the Seahawk's cheerleaders are Title R airborne compliant.
at NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 81, WILLIAM & MARY 68 02/04/2012
WILLIAM & MARY 4-21 (2-11) -- Q. McDowell 9-16 4-7 27; M. Rum 2-5 0-0 4; M. Thornton 2-10 3-4 8; B. Britt 1-6 7-8 9; T. Rusthoven 7-11 2-5 16; J. Boatner 0-6 0-0 0; F. Heldring 1-1 0-0 2; T. Schalk 0-1 2-2 2; A. Pavloff 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-57 18-26 68. NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 9-14 (5-8) -- A. Smith 6-13 10-10 25; K. Rendleman 5-9 2-4 12; T. Milson 4-7 2-2 13; T. Deloach 5-11 4-6 16; D. Morales 4-7 0-0 10; F. Jackson 1-3 0-0 2; C. Williams 1-1 1-2 3; M. Wilson 0-0 0-1 0; C. Chambers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-51 19-25 81.
Three-point goals: CWM 6-23 (Q. McDowell 5-10; M. Rum 0-3; J. Boatner 0-5; B. Britt 0-2; M. Thornton 1-3), UNCW 10-19 (T. Deloach 2-4; T. Milson 3-5; D. Morales 2-2; F. Jackson 0-2; A. Smith 3-6); Rebounds: CWM 24 (T. Rusthoven 7), UNCW 39 (K. Rendleman 12); Assists: CWM 10 (M. Rum 6), UNCW 15 (T. Milson 5); Total Fouls -- CWM 20, UNCW 23; Fouled Out: CWM-B. Britt; UNCW-D. Morales.