the Pride and Charles Jenkins "murdered" the Seahawks 93-54. But it was also much more than that.
For those of you who remember (or just read the above linked story), during the game, Charles Jenkins had an eight point play, which was unreal if you witnessed it live. Apparently the media thought it was unreal as well, as the eight point play received national attention. Combine the final score with the eight point play, and it was probably a very publicly embarrassing moment for a UNC- Wilmington team that was at the time 7-14 and was 7-25 the season before.
Seahawks coach Benny Moss was "reassigned". As I noted my article from last season (which is the link on the previous sentence), I had thought Moss deserved to finish out the season. However I also noted how bad a defensive team the Seahawks were and that you "could just see the lack of effort on defense". They were a very undisciplined team under Moss.
After a coaching search that took longer than the Falklands War (kudos to Beach on that classic nugget), UNCW hired Buzz Peterson, who had been coaching Appalachian State, to be the new head coach. Peterson had a tall task in his first season as his team had combined for 14 wins the two previous seasons and several players including forward John Fields, now at Tennessee, left the team.
Charles Jenkins saved UNCW basketball. Peterson's team entered the game last night with a 9-9 record, including a 3-3 conference record. Based on a talk I had with Brian Mull after the game, Peterson has also rejuvenated the UNCW fan base. The attendance for their home game against VCU was 5,126, which was more than double their attendance from a year ago in their previous home game with the Rams (2,375). And that was with school not in session (Kudos to Mull for that nugget).
As for Hofstra, they were recovering from their first loss of the conference season against ODU. But despite that loss, no one would have thought in Mo Cassara's first season as head coach that they would be 5-1 in conference. The Pride have a huge road win over Drexel, their first road win vs the Dragons since 2007 and a win over Mason, their first win over the Patriots since 2007. Not bad for a team which a year ago only had a 2-7 record in conference when they faced UNCW.
The Seahawks came right out and gave notice that this wasn't your Benny Moss Seahawks. UNCW's terrific duo of Chad Tomko and Keith Rendleman gave a preview to the Seahawks scoring on the night as they combined to score all their team's points as UNCW led 7-3 early. The Seahawks would still be up 9-7 with 16:04 left in the first half.
However, where last season's Seahawks would have likely folded the tent, Buzz Peterson's team would show a lot of heart. Rendleman led a 11-2 Seahawks spurt scoring nine of the eleven UNCW points as the Hofstra lead was now only four, 29-25 with 2:35 left. Rendleman's athleticism forced the Pride frontcourt into foul trouble. Greg Washington and Roland Brown each had two fouls and Paul Bilbo and Imes each had one as they could not defend the quicker, bouncier Rendleman.
The start of the second half saw Hofstra score four quick points to extend their lead back to twelve, 39-27 with 19:04 left. Then Peterson called a 30 second timeout. Whatever he said, it sure worked. The Seahawks offense went to work while their zone forced the Pride to shoot errant threes. As a result, UNCW went on a stunning 23-6 run over the span of ten minutes. Tomko would lead the run scoring ten points, the last of which, a patented Tomko three pointer gave the Seahawks a 50-45 lead with 9:17 left.
It just so happens that last year one of those girls whizzed and I mean, whizzed, a t-shirt into the first couple of rows. And she smacked someone not paying attention right in the face with the T-shirt. Well wouldn't you know it, they came out again during a TV timeout and "tossed" T-shirts into the crowd again. During this time, I stupidly turned to say something to Jeff and I got nailed right in the shoulder with a T-shirt. Jeff was like "why didn't you catch it?!" And I replied, "Because I was about to turn to talk to you on the game." Lesson learned...again. Always pay attention during a Hofstra Women's Lacrosse T Shirt Toss.
Jenkins first assisted on a three by Shemiye McLendon to cut the lead to two, 50-47. Then after Rendleman put the Seahawks back up by four, Moore and Imes hit baskets to tie the game at 52. Then it was another episode of "Charles in Charge". Jenkins would score the next seven points for Hofstra, the last two coming on free throws to put Hofstra up 59-52 with 3:14 left. Later, his two free throws extended the lead to ten, 64-54 with 2:09 left. The Pride would eventually win 66-57.
As for UNCW, they played so much better than last season's game and if not for Jenkins, they may have very well won the game. Tomko and Rendleman combined to score 35 points on 15 of 31 shooting. Rendleman also had eight rebounds while Tomko had six assists. Unfortunately they combined for nine turnovers.
Read his game article, which contains a classic Buzz Peterson quote on Jenkins. Here's Beach good work as usual as well.
The four of us ended up having a late dinner at the Colony Diner in East Meadow as we chatted generally about CAA hoops and the rising fortunes of both Hofstra and UNCW. After a great dinner at the diner, the four of us agreed we would have dinner again in Richmond while there for the CAA Tournament in March. It's funny, but that's only five plus weeks away. And since we agreed that there seems to be no clearcut favorite right now, it could be the best CAA tournament ever. Five weeks eh? I know I am looking very much forward to it.