2022 Men's Baha Mar Hoops Championship

Baha Mar Nassau Championship Recap: UNCW Grinds Out Another Trophy

Baha Mar Nassau Championship Recap: UNCW Grinds Out Another Trophy

UNC Wilmington picked up its third difference championship of the 2022 calendar year, adding the Baha Mar Championship to a CAA title and CBI crown.

Nov 28, 2022 by Briar Napier
Baha Mar Nassau Championship Recap: UNCW Grinds Out Another Trophy

At this rate, UNC Wilmington is going to run out of room in its trophy case.

An impressive 12-month stretch for the Seahawks got even more eye-opening when they took home the Baha Mar Nassau Championship title Sunday against a fellow hotshot with postseason pedigree in North Texas, adding onto a haul of hardware that has them being one of the top buzzes of the mid-major college hoops world at the moment.

It was a grind through three days in the sunny Bahamas, but perhaps after the grit and fight they showed through multiple rounds of the tournament, UNCW has earned the right to relax in paradise just a little bit before the meat of the nonconference schedule gets going in the coming weeks.

Here’s a recap of all that went down at the Baha Mar Nassau Championship at the Baha Mar Convention Center in Nassau, The Bahamas, with UNC Wilmington sealing the deal on Sunday over North Texas to take the tournament title:

UNCW Grows Its Trophy Case

UNC Wilmington had barely had time to make enough room for its past couple of pieces of hardware before it went out and got itself another one. With the accomplishments in the program starting to become more routine than out of the ordinary, it’s safe to say that coach Takayo Siddle is building something special in the coastal city. 

The defending Colonial Athletic Association regular-season co-champions and winners of the 2022 College Basketball Invitational, the Seahawks nabbed their third hoops trophy in less than a year by picking up an impressive, defensive-minded 55-51 win over North Texas on Sunday in the Nassau Championship title game. 

Downing Missouri State, Vermont and then finally the Mean Green on consecutive days to capture the crown, UNCW’s gritty win to close the show was spearheaded by a 16-3 run that extended from late in the first half to early in the second and by shooing away a UNT comeback attempt that saw the Mean Green cut the lead down drastically and give the Seahawks a scare after they were leading 51-41 with 48 seconds remaining. 

The Seahawks got a team-high 16 points from sophomore guard Jamarii Thomas in the win, and though fellow sophomore Trazarian White was largely held in check in the title game with just seven points against North Texas, the forward finished as the Nassau Championship’s MVP after an impressive tournament overall. 

UNCW may “only” be 5-3 overall to start the 2022-23 season, but those three losses have all come on the road against powerhouse programs North Carolina, Oklahoma and UConn. Against teams closer to their mid-major standing — just like the ones they faced in The Bahamas — the Seahawks are a tough code to crack and a squad likely to wreak havoc in the CAA season yet again.

White Turning into Seahawks’ Main Man

A bit of an unsung piece on the Seahawks’ highly-successful team last year, White went perhaps a bit under the radar a season ago as a freshman despite making 23 starts, rarely being tasked as UNCW’s main offensive option.

Now, the dynamic has changed with graduations and departures from last season all over the roster — but White is pushing through to be one of the team’s top scorers nonetheless.

The lanky 6-foot-6 Texan averaged 11.0 points and 6.0 rebounds over the three UNCW wins at Baha Mar, looking the most impressive in the tournament-opening win over Missouri State in which he scored 16 points and ripped down 11 rebounds for a double-double, then threw in four steals, three assists and a block just for good measure.

Able to give teams of any and all calibers fits — in the season-opening loss at No. 1 North Carolina, White finished with a game-high 19 points as one of the best players on the floor — White clearly dished those fits out to many defenders at the Nassau Championship, resulting in a statement display for his Seahawks this past weekend.

But perhaps it’s just something about the UNCW sophomore class as a whole: Thomas, as previously mentioned, was the team-high scorer in the title game, and he too was more of a role player during his freshman season.

Now, with four double-digit scoring outputs in his past five games, the Thomas-White duo could emerge as one of the best in the CAA, especially if the two keep on growing on the potential they flashed in The Bahamas.

Long Beach State Strong in Third-Place Win

Vermont has built a reputation as a favorite spoiler in brackets everywhere (mainly in March) and tough mid-major foe to face year-in and year-out, but when the Catamounts were drawn with Long Beach State in the third-place game of the Nassau Championship, there was no spoiling to be had this time around.

The Beach fought to pick up a cozy 78-58 win and to snag third Sunday, led by a 23-point night by junior guard Marcus Tsohonis and a 20-point night from senior guard Joel Murray. LBSU forced 17 turnovers and overall made life miserable on the floor for Vermont, picking up the decisive win a day after North Texas did very similar to The Beach in their own right in a 19-point win Saturday.

The Beach plays fast under longtime coach Dan Monson, and it was made true as Vermont struggled to keep up with the pace — shooting just 35.8% from the floor and 24% from 3-point range for the game — while LBSU took high-percentage chances and converted them, shooting 55.9% from the floor while knocking down eight triples across the board, three of which came from Tsohonis.

The interior presence of sophomore forward Lassina Traore (seven points, 11 rebounds, two blocks) helped matters, too, as the Beach won the rebounding battle 37-26.

LBSU now heads into a three-game road trip (including visits to two other California schools in Sacramento State and USC) with some extra added momentum, but also some talking points it may need to touch on stemming from the North Texas loss in the Nassau Championship semifinals, as well.