UNC Wilmington's Ben Eblen knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 40 seconds left in the second overtime to lift the Seahawks past College of Charleston, 57-55, Saturday night at Trask Coliseum in Wilmington, N.C
The basket was the only one for Eblen, who attended Wando High School his freshman year. Shane Reybold scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Seahawks, who snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 9-21 and 3-12 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Cougars (14-15, 6-8) were led by Nori Johnson's 15 points, while Adjehi Baru added 13 points. Willis Hall recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cougars, who led 38-28 with less than 10 minutes left, squandered another double-digit lead on the road. The Cougars led both Towson and Delaware late in each game on the road only to eventually lose.
"It was a tough loss for us tonight," said Cougars coach Doug Wojcik. "We've had a very demanding year. We've lost five straight on the road. We are a very good road team and have been in the past. . It's a disappointed locker room. I can't ask much more from our team other than making shots. We had the game won, but we gave up an offensive rebound to lose the game (in regulation)."
Charleston appeared to be in complete control midway through the second half, when Johnson was fouled attempting a 3-pointer in front of the Charleston bench. The former Byrnes High School star drained all three free throws to extend the Cougars' lead to 38-28 with 9:31 on the clock.
Charleston led 49-41 when the Seahawks' comeback began.
Wilmington reeled off eight straight points as Craig Ponder sank a pair of free throws with 1:39 left to tie the game at 49.
Charleston led 51-49 near the end of regulation and appeared in position to sweep the season series until Reybold tipped in a miss at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Neither team scored in the first overtime period as the two teams combined for 10 misses and four turnovers. Charleston opened the second overtime scoring the first four points.
A shot-clock violation by the Cougars gave UNCW possession, which led to the game-winner by Eblen. The Seahawks worked the ball around on the wing, and with the shot clock winding down, Eblen sank the shot from the top of the key to put the Seahawks up, 56-55. Charleston called a timeout, but Anthony Stitt missed a short jumper with 10 seconds left to end the game.
It was the Cougars' second straight loss to the Seahawks at Trask Coliseum next to another heartbreaking overtime loss in 2007.
"We have had a lot of tough ones this year," Wojcik said. "We are a pretty resilient team. We are really good defensively and we rebound the ball well. Our inconsistencies have been on offense all year. Whether it's been turnovers, free throws or shooting. We sat down on their level and didn't preach to them. You have no choice; you are in the last week of the season. It's been a tough year."