Sweet, Sweet Victory - Mace and Crown
The Monarchs Annihilate UNCW
In what has been a constant struggle to win in front of the home crowd this season, the Monarchs were able to obtain an elusive home victory, snagging their first home win since dropping Morgan State 72-61 on Nov. 10.
Shooting an astounding 58.6 percent from the field, five Monarchs scored in double figures, led by senior-forward DeShawn Painter with 18 and an ultra-efficient 15 points off of six-of-nine shooting from red-shirt sophomore Dimitri Batten.
Joining Batten in the Monarchs assault by way of the backcourt was ambidextrous junior guard Donte Hill, and with freshman guards Aaron Bacote and Keenan Palmore, shooting a combined 13-for-20 from the field.
Although the Seahawks struggled mightily to answer the Monarchs on the offensive end, UNC Wilmington’s aggressive point-forward Keith Rendleman logged 15 points and 11 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive glass in 34 minutes of action.
After a slow start, UNCW led 16-15 with 10:15 left in the first half, then after a pair of free throws by Painter to put ODU up one. The Monarchs roared ferociously, outscoring the Seahawks 20-10 to end the half and never looking back for the duration of the game.
Limiting the Seahawks to an abysmal 35.6 percent from the field, and lockdown interior defense, coupled with active hands on the perimeter. Enabling the Monarchs to adjust the tempo of the game, and outscoring the Seahawks 16-4 in fast-break points.
Getting out in transition in such a way that would make even the great “Showtime” Lakers of the eighties nod in approval. The Monarchs settled in on a pace of play that utilized each player’s athletic ability and skill, all the while earning the applause of interim head coach Jim Corrigan.
“Our defense created offense for us,” Corrigan said. “We thought two of the big keys of the game were our transition defense and we thought we could get out on them in transition. As well as we shot it, [UNCW] had few opportunities to get out on the fast-break.”
Emerging as a complement to the sheer dominance Painter possesses in the low-post, the Monarchs have continued to be anchored by none other than high-flying red-shirt sophomore Richard Ross. The 6-foot 7-inch forward attacked relentlessly, and scoring 12 points while creating highlight reels on both ends of the court.
Corrigan has implemented Ross into the game plan in a way that unleashes what he brings to the table: absurd athletic ability. If the past couple of weeks have been any indication, one thing is for certain. Richard Ross is becoming one of the most dominant and awe-inspiring players in the CAA.
While Ross’ athletic ability may at times overshadow everything else he brings to the table. Corrigan is confident that as time goes on, Ross’ game will only elevate. “[Ross] is extremely athletic,” Corrigan said. “There was a play in the first half where he jumped up in the air, double-clutched and threw the ball over the backboard. When he came out of the game I was like ‘you have to dunk that.’ Then in the second half, he rose up and dunked it. He is learning to become a basketball player that is athletic versus an athlete that plays basketball.”
Coming off a thoroughly impressive 73-67 win at home against CAA-leading Northeastern, one would think the Seahawks would be on a high, confident, and eager to hit the hardwood against anyone in the conference. However, that was not the case Wednesday evening, let alone the majority of games this year. In what has been a disappointing season, the Seahawks lack cohesiveness and leadership, something of which head coach Buzz Peterson has been coping with all season long.
“Until they listen and be coachable, we will not win on the road,” Peterson said. “I don’t think there is a person in that locker room that is going to get on someone else. Not until we get somebody to challenge someone else will we be successful on the road.”
Although only a four-win team on paper, Wednesday’s victory nonetheless instilled within the Monarchs the keys to being successful not only now, but for years to come. “It gives us a positive viewpoint,” Richard Ross said. “Now we see what we have to do to be successful, so we can just build on that.”
With only three games left in the regular season, other teams in the CAA better wake up, for the Monarchs are hungry, and the feasting has just begun.
By: Eric Guy