Last March, UNC-Wilmington almost pulled off the unthinkable. The Seahawks almost beat in-state powerhouse Duke in the NCAA Tournament.
But it didn’t happen. No. 13 UNC-Wilmington lost to No. 4 Duke, 93-85.
If you think UNC-Wilmington was happy just to have kept it close, well, you’d be wrong.
“You just don’t know when your team has the opportunity to play against one of the big boys in the state,” UNC-Wilmington head coach Kevin Keatts said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I’ll be honest with you. After that game, if you would have came in that locker room, you would have saw guys devastated because we really felt like we should have won the game. I thought in the first half we completely controlled the game. But somehow they had this really good basketball player named Brandon Ingram that we really had no answer for.”
Ingram finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocks, as he and Marshall Plumlee combined to shoot 16-of-22 (72.7 percent) from the floor.
Not even 11 threes from UNC-Wilmington could overcome that.
“Our guys were proud and they played hard and they believed that they could win the game,” Keatts said. “I think that’s carried over to this season.”
UNC-Wilmington went 26-5 and won the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season championship. Four Seahawks are scoring in double figures: C.J. Bryce, who is averaging 17.5 points per game, Chris Flemmings (15.7), Denzel Ingram (14.2) and Devontae Cacok (12.2).
All four played against Duke last season.
“We’ve got some guys who have played in March and played in the NCAA Tournament,” Keatts said. “But it’s always tough. At this level, a lot of times with the resume that we have, we may have to win three games in three days to be able to get that opportunity again.”