North Carolina-Wilmington's Mark Eaton may be 12 inches shorter than the fellow with the same name who plays for the Utah Jazz, but he couldn't have had a bigger impact on yesterday's 79-73 victory over American.
The 6-foot-4 guard -- who entered the game with 15 points this season -- had all his career-high 18 points in the second half as the Seahawks dealt the Eagles their third Colonial Athletic Association loss at Bender Arena in its three-year history.
The game, played before a quiet crowd of 779, was the CAA opener for both teams and possibly the unveiling of the Seahawks' secret weapon.
"You never know when your time is going to come," North Carolina-Wilmington Coach Kevin Eastman said of Eaton. "He's had excellent practices over the past two weeks."
"I haven't really played a lot of minutes consecutively," said Eaton, who had totaled 57 minutes and had a previous high of eight points. "I just try to do anything I can to pick up the team and give us a little extra oomph."
Forward Brian Withers led the Seahawks -- who rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit -- with 20 points. Forward Brian Gilgeous paced the Eagles with 20 points and seven rebounds.
The Eagles (5-5, 0-1) controlled the first half as the Seahawks (5-6, 1-0) shot 34 percent and played sloppily. American led, 15-10, when it got a big lift from guard Donald Grant, a transfer from Old Dominion playing his second game since becoming eligible. He scored the Eagles' next 13 points as they opened a 28-18 lead.
American led by 10 at halftime, and when Gilgeous opened the second half with a three-pointer to make the score 40-27, the Seahawks appeared in deep trouble. But they began pushing the ball inside successfully, and a 17-4 run tied the game at 44.
The Eagles took a 49-46 lead, but Eaton responded with a three-point play. Three minutes later, he made consecutive three-pointers and a layup as the Seahawks moved ahead by 60-53. American never got closer than five again.