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UNC Wilmington prevail past Hampton

The SportsXchange

WILMINGTON, N.C. -- UNC Wilmington coach Buzz Peterson liked the result despite the frantic finish Sunday afternoon.

UNC Wilmington overcame a series of offensive woes to defeat visiting Hampton 61-60 at Trask Coliseum.

"To be 3-3, there's nothing wrong with that at all," Peterson said. "You take them any way you can get them."

Keith Rendleman's 23 points and a final-possession defensive stop allowed the Seahawks to prevail, keeping Hampton winless.

Freddie Jackson's lay-in with 1:02 to play provided the go-ahead points. After a technical foul on Hampton coach Edward Joyner Jr., the Seahawks failed to increase their lead and gave the ball back to the Pirates on a missed shot with about 30 seconds left.

The Pirates scurried to take a shot on their last possession, but they couldn't launch in time as Deron Powers' release came after the horn and missed the mark anyway.

"I feel for Hampton," Peterson said. "They fought hard and sometimes in these crazy games you never know."

Hampton's David Bruce scored 13 points before fouling out. Powers and Du'Vaughn Maxwell added 11 points apiece for the Pirates (0-5).

"We just need everybody to click and keep going," Bruce said. "I believe as soon as we get a taste of winning there's no turning back. We've just got to get one."

Jackson, who finished with 12 points, said it was a boost of confidence to be involved in the late-game situation.

"I'm starting to believe in myself," he said. "It's helping me a lot and you have to be ready."

There were times when Jackson was reluctant to shoot. So Peterson said he was glad that problem is cured with a series of solid performances.

"With Freddie playing like this, he has kind of taken off," Peterson said.

The Seahawks, who failed to reach the 50-point mark in their previous three games, eclipsed that barrier with nearly 6 minutes to play, yet they trailed 54-51 at that point.

UNC Wilmington overcame 21-for-39 free-throw shooting.

"We've got to have those," Peterson said.

Unlike Friday's atmosphere in the same building with a couple of hundred onlookers for what was Hampton's neutral-court loss to Wofford, there was more for the Pirates to contend as the Seahawks played on their home court.

The Pirates were so discouraged after a 56-51 loss to Wofford two days earlier that they vowed improved focus, Maxwell said. Now it's a matter of making it work in clutch situations.

"I've got to step it up," Maxwell said. "It's about being men right now. This is D-I basketball and we need better effort. ... The scary thing is we've got a good enough team, no question at all."

UNC Wilmington picked up back-to-back victories for the first time since the first week of last January. This outcome followed a victory against Wofford 24 hours earlier.

"The adrenalin got going and it was no problem at all," Jackson said.

Hampton shot 40.8 percent in the game, yet cut down on turnovers compared to previous outings. Eight of their 18 turnovers came in the second half.

"We've got to see some shots go down," Joyner said. "We need someone to make shots. I think we play defense well enough when we need to."

UNC Wilmington pulled even at 38-38 on Rendleman's free throw with 14:14 to play. But Rendleman picked up his third foul shortly after that, leaving Hampton some room to operate in the middle.

Earlier, Hampton led 21-14 with 7 minutes left in the first half, with UNC Wilmington suffering from 11 turnovers and a scoring drought of nearly 7 minutes.

Jackson's 3-point basket at the 5-minute mark of the first half tied the score at 22-22. Tanner Milson's two free throws pushed the Seahawks into the lead.

By halftime, Hampton was back in the lead at 26-22, with Ramon Mercado hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Pirates stretched the edge to 34-26 in the first 1:30 of the second half.

The Seahawks were nearly undone by 3-for-13 shooting on 3-pointers in the first half.

Rendleman, who has been playing with a jammed finger, has scored in double figures in 18 consecutive games, the longest active streak among Colonial Athletic Association players. Add in the junior's 15 rebounds, and he notched his 24th career double-double.

"After a minute, the pain goes away," Rendleman said.

The game marked the final clash of the Nations of Coaches Classic, a collection of games with pre-determined matchups.

The Pirates have yet to play at home. Joyner said there are other teams with stretches of road games this time of the season.

"I'm not going to use that as an excuse," he said.

Notes: It was the first-ever meeting between Hampton and UNC Wilmington. ... Hampton's first home game won't come until Dec. 1. The Pirates were 1-13 on road last season. ... UNC Wilmington was technically the road team Sunday, so it wore road uniforms for a different look for the home fans. Still, the Seahawks used their normal home bench. ... The Seahawks improved to 3-0 on their homecourt this season.
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