AMES, Iowa – High-flying Iowa State dialed "Long" distance in every sense of the word early Sunday, cruising to a 95-62 season-opening victory over visiting UNCW behind the impressive marksmanship of sophomore guard Naz Long.
The Cyclones unveiled their 2013 NCAA Tournament banner in style and then rode the hot hand of Long, who drained 8-of-11 three-point attempts, to an easy victory before a sellout crowd of 14,384 faithful at raucous Hilton Coliseum.
"They shot light's out from the three-point line and made it difficult for us," said fourth-year UNCW Head Coach Buzz Peterson. "They hurt us by spreading out the floor and then got some in transition, too. It's very frustrating, but we have to keep fighting and get ready for the next one."
Long, a 6-4, 205-pound shooter from Mississauga, Ontario, put on quite a shooting exhibition. He fired in 9-of-12 field goal attempts for his game-high 26 points as all five ISU starters reached double figures. Georges Niang added 16 points, DeAndre Kane scored 13 and Matt Thomas and Dustin Hogue chipped in 10 apiece for the Cyclones.
Senior guard Chris Dixon anchored three Seahawks in double digits with 15 points. Junior guard Addison Spruill scored 12 and junior forward Cedrick Wiliams had 12 – all in the second half – for UNCW.
The elusive Long had 20 points at intermission on 7-of-9 shooting, including 6-of-8 from deep, to get the Cyclones rolling early and ISU poured it on, leading by as many as 43 points in the non-conference contest. The game concluded a two-game swing to the Hawkeye State for the Seahawks, who faced Iowa on Friday night in Iowa City.
Long centered a long range display in the first half that carried the Cyclones to a comfortable 52-22 lead at the break. Eight of ISU's 18 field goals came behind the line as Fred Hoiberg's club unleashed an outside attack the Seahawks couldn't slow down.
"They really pushed the ball hard," Peterson said, "and found Naz Long in transition. Meantime, they were doing a nice job on Cedrick, but he battled back."
ISU scored the first seven points of the contest and still led, 14-7, when Kane connected at 12:33.
But the Seahawks scored 10 of the next 12 points to pull within, 14-13, with just over 10 minutes left in the opening period. A pair of free throws and a jumper near the free throw line by Spruill sliced the lead to 14-13 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the first period.
ISU answered with a 24-5 spurt, however, behind Long's shooting to break away late in the first half. Long canned three triples in the sequence and Hogue's layup over Luke Hager at the 4:32 mark completed the run and gave the Cyclones a 38-18 bulge. Another 14-0 run made the score 52-20 before two free throws by Dixon with 35 seconds left the halftime score at52-22.
It was all ISU from there as the Cyclones of the Big 12 Conference coasted. A conventional three-point play by Hogue delivered ISU its largest lead of the game, 77-34, with 12:51 on the clock.
Long set a UNCW opponent record for most three-pointers made with his eight trifectas after four other players had accomplished the feat in the past. He also set an opponent mark for best three-point percentage in a game with his 8-of-11 (.727) performance and tied the opponent record for treys attempted (UWGB's Ryan Borowicz in 1999 and Navy's Joe Gottschalk in 1988)
Poor shooting plagued the Seahawks for the second straight game. UNCW shot just 29.7 percent, compared to 52.4 percent by the Cyclones. The Seahawks did take care of the ball, committing just seven turnovers against the home team.
UNCW continues its three-game road trip to open the season on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. pairing against Charleston Southern at the cozy Buc Dome. The Seahawks then return to Wilmington for their home opener Saturday against NCAA Division II Wingate.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks went 5-of-16 from three-point range…Ten of UNCW's 11 players scored…ISU outscored UNCW, 43-40, in the second half…UNCW never led in the contest…Craig Ponder and Tanner Milson had three assists apiece for the Seahawks…No player had more than four rebounds for the Seahawks…UNCW went a solid 19-of-24 at the free throw line…ISU scored 28 of its 95 points in the paint…The Cyclones attempted twice as many three-pointers, 32-16, than the Seahawks.