Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - Sports - BY AARON BEARD

Sopho­more KZ Ok­pala had 23 points and Stan­ford scored 17 unan­swered first-half points to take con­trol and beat UNC Wilm­ing­ton 72-59 on Fri­day night.

Cor­mac Ryan added 14 for the Car­di­nal (2-0), who trailed by eight but held the Sea­hawks with­out a bas­ket for the fi­nal 71⁄2 min­utes be­fore half­time to take a 39-25 lead at the break.

Stan­ford pushed that mar­gin to 18. UNCW got no closer than eight again.

It was the se­cond straight big game for the 6-foot-9 Ok­pala, who had a ca­reer-best 29 points in the sea­son-open­ing win against Seat­tle.

Devon­tae Ca­cok and Jean­tal Cylla each scored 14 for the Sea­hawks (0-2), who were host­ing a power-con­fer­ence op­po­nent for the first time since De­cem­ber 2009. There was a con­nec­tion that helped sched­ule this matchup: the teams are coached by former Kansas team­mates and North Carolina as­sis­tant coaches un­der Roy Wil­liams in Stan­ford’s Jerod Haase and UNCW’s C.B. McGrath.


Stan­ford: The Novem­ber miles will add up quickly for the Car­di­nal, who trav­eled about 2,500 miles across the coun­try for the first of two games in North Carolina. Then, af­ter re­turn­ing home to host Wof­ford, Stan­ford will travel more than 2,700 miles east again to the Ba­hamas for the three-games-in-three­days Bat­tle 4 At­lantis tour­na­ment dur­ing the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day. Haase will cer­tainly learn a bit about his team’s ma­tu­rity in han­dling this open­ing stretch.

UNCW: The Sea­hawks are hav­ing early sea­son trou­ble with turnovers. They had 18 turnovers that led to 25 points in Tues­day’s 97-93 over­time loss at Camp­bell. They strug­gled again to take care of the bas­ket­ball against Stan­ford’s length, in­clud­ing two straight turnovers to open the se­cond half that killed any chance of quick mo­men­tum out of the break. UNCW fin­ished with 20 turnovers.


Stan­ford: The Car­di­nal will stay on the East Coast un­til Mon­day’s visit to No. 8 North Carolina.

UNCW: McGrath gets an­other Tar Heels re­union Tues­day with a visit from UNC Greens­boro and Spar­tans coach Wes Miller, who played for UNC from 2004-07 dur­ing McGrath’s time on Wil­liams’ staff.

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