Senior center R.J. White dominated play in the paint scoring 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field in 27 minutes of action.
Senior center R.J. White dominated play in the paint scoring 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field in 27 minutes of action.
Courtesy: Photo Courtesy of Tim Cowie

Menís Basketball Sees Comeback Falls Short On Last Second Heartbreaker Against Wake Forest 12-09-2016

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team rallied from a 16-point second half deficit to tie the game with 28.6 seconds left only to see Wake Forest hit a desperation 25-foot 3-pointer with 2.0 seconds remaining as the Spartans dropped a 78-75 heartbreaker to the Demon Deacons Friday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The Spartans went toe-to-toe against the Atlantic Coast Conference foe before suffering their first loss since Nov. 19 to fall to 7-3 on the season. The loss snaps the Spartans’ six-game winning streak and is just their second loss at the Greensboro Coliseum in the last 14 games.

“I am really proud of my guys for how hard they fought,” head coach Wes Miller said. “This one is going to sting for awhile. We had a chance and battled all the way back with the right effort and attitude defensively. Our guys sold out for each other and gave it there all. I am so proud of their effort, I just wish they would have been rewarded in the final score.”

The Spartans trailed 59-43 with 14:54 remaining in the game before turning the tables with their effort on defense and on the glass. UNCG started to his some shots from the outside as it posted an 18-4 run over a span of 6:52 to narrow the deficit to two at 63-61.

Senior center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) started the run with a layup in the paint as he asserted his presence down low to open up the outside. The Spartans hit four 3-pointers during the run from four different players as junior Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy), freshman Malik Massey (Charlotte, N.C./New Hampton), sophomore Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) and sophomore Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) flipped the momentum from the outside.

Wake Forest (8-2) scrapped its way back to a six-point lead at 73-67 with 5:20 remaining as Keyshawn Woods hit a pair of 3-pointers. The Spartans did not back down as they scored the next five points as White converted an old-fashioned 3-point play and Smith scored on an offensive rebound tip-in to make it a 73-72 game with 3:25 remaining.

After Wake Forest took a 75-72 lead on a Bryant Crawford basket, White hit one of two from the charity stripe to trim the deficit to two. The Spartans picked up a key defensive stop on the ensuing possession and senior guard Diante Baldwin (Greensboro, N.C./High Point Christian) scored off a drive with 28.6 seconds remaining to tie the game at 75-75.

The Spartans played strong defense on the final possession as Crawford wanted to drive into the paint but was denied and was forced to throw up a prayer with 2.0 seconds remaining form 25-feet out that somehow fell for the game-winning points. Crawford was 0-4 from distance up until that point. The Spartans had one desperation chance but their long pass was intercepted and Wake Forest survived for the victory.

White turned in a dominating performance against the Demon Deacons, scoring a season-high 22 points and grabbing five rebounds in 27 minutes of action as he battled through foul trouble all night. He connected on 8-of-13 from the field in the pain and hit 6-of-12 from the free throw line. Baldwin added 18 points as he was 6-of-12 form the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line.

UNCG finished the night shooting 44.6 percent (25-of-56) from the field and 36.4 percent (8-of-22) from distance. The Spartans out-scored Wake Forest 44-35 in the second half when they connected on 56 percent (14-of-25) from the field and 76.9 percent (10-of-13) from the free throw line.

Wake Forest ended the night shooting 50 percent (26-of-52) from the field and 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from distance. The Demon Deacons connected on 72 percent (18-of-25) from the free throw line and the Spartans tied Wake Forest on the glass, 31-13. John Collins led the Demon Deacons with 17 points and 12 rebounds while Crawford finished with 17 points and Woods added 16 points.

The Spartans opened up to an early 5-2 lead as Baldwin scored the first five points of the game for UNCG. Wake Forest settled in and took a 16-7 lead at the 14:02 mark as John Collins and Dinos Mitoglou scored four points each in the early going.

UNCG responded with a 7-2 run to narrow the gap to 18-14 as junior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) scored five straight points. After Wake Forest too a 26-19 lead, the Spartans posted a 9-1 run to take a 28-27 lead at the 5:51 mark. White scored three points during the run while Troy scored four, including a jumper to give the Spartans the lead.

Wake Forest closed the first half on a 13-2 run to take a 43-31 lead into the locker room. Collins scored five during the run while Bryan Crawford scored four as the Demon Deacons got to the free throw line down the stretch. Wake Forest attempted 17 free throws in the first half, converting on 58.8 percent.

The Spartans connected on just 35.5 percent (11-of-31) from the field and only 18.2 percent (2-of-11) from 3-point land in the first half. Baldwin led the Spartans with nine points while White added six points and Kuiper had five points. Wake Forest ended the half shooting 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from the field 33.3 percent (3-of-9) from distance. Collins led the way with 11 points while Mitoglou chipped in nine points.

UNCG returns to action next Wednesday night as it wraps up the six-game home stretch with a non-conference game against Southern Wesleyan. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum.

-- UNCG --

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