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UNC Wilmington wins CAA basketball tournament 2016: Seahawks topple Hofstra in overtime thriller

UNCW went back and forth with Hofstra to leg out a 80-73 overtime win. This is March.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC Wilmington and Hofstra clawed away at one another for an extra-minutes thriller in the CAA Tournament final Monday, and on the shoulders of Denzel Ingram's late-in-overtime three-pointer, the Seahawks squeaked out an 80-73 win. The CAA champions have thus earned their conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Hofstra led the night's proceedings at halftime, 41-34, and opened the advantage to as many as 12 points, but a nine-minute scoring drought from the Pride late in the second period allowed UNCW to storm back and lead 68-64 with two minutes remaining. UNCW's Chris Flemmings committed a blocking foul on Hofstra's Juan'ya Green, who nailed both free throws to even things up at 68 with just 27 seconds on the clock.

Craig Ponder then drove to the basket on UNCW's ensuing possession and drew contact to grant Hofstra a final attempt in regulation. Green threw up a prayer from 40 feet that clanged out.

The resulting overtime frame knotted both clubs into a blow-for-blow grunt fest that saw limbs and fouls fly early and often, but the Seahawks outscored the Pride, 12-5, therein to earn the win. UNCW shot 4-of-4 from the floor in the extra period, and Ingram's heroic three-pointer with 34 seconds left proved the dagger for Hofstra's tournament hopes.

With the win, UNCW earns its first trip back to the NCAA Tournament since 2006. Chris Dobbertean projected Hofstra into the field of 68 as a No. 12 seed, so it'll be interesting to see where the Seahawks finally end up.