DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Mike Okauru had 27 points as UNC Wilmington beat VMI 93-78 in the College Basketball Invitational first round. Trey Bonham led the Keydets with 26 points while Jake Stephens added 23 points.
The matchup featured four ties and eight lead changes as the team were knotted up at 51-51 with just under 14 minutes to play. The Seahawks then went on a 21-9 run over the next five minutes to break the game open as they hit four treys during the stretch. UNCW also proved dominant in the paint, outscoring VMI, 40-18, and took advantage of VMI’s turnovers with 21 points in transition. UNCW turned to its bench for additional support as they outscored VMI, 16-0, throughout the game.
Four Seahawks finished the game in double figures led by Mike Okauru’s 27 points on 8-16 shooting, including four three-pointers. Jaylen Sims also had a strong performance by scoring 18 points and hit eight of nine free throw attempts. James Baker contributed 13 points and Shykeim Phillips finished with 10.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t play our best basketball. The turnovers were really costly. With 18 turnovers it’s tough to win a basketball game,” said VMI head coach Dan Earl. “You have to credit UNCW for playing tough, physical defense - their press slowed us down quite a bit. That’s not how we want to play. We want to be attacking and not passive. Once we beat the pressure in the second half a little bit, we weren’t making the best decisions.”