Strong Second Half Propels Menís Basketball To Win Over Western Carolina
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team opened the second half on a 31-8 run as the Spartans pulled away for a 76-57 Southern Conference victory over visiting Western Carolina Saturday evening at the Greensboro Coliseum. The victory improves the Spartans to 12-5 on the season and 3-1 in SoCon play as they head into a their next game at league-leader East Tennessee State Thursday night.
Sophomore guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) continued his torrid streak as he scored 21 points, including 19 in the first half to pace the Spartans’ attack. Alonso played just 22 minutes in the victory, hitting 8-of-11 from the field, including four 3-pointers.
Redshirt freshman forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) posted his second career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in 26 minutes of play. Dickey connected on a perfect 6-of-6 from the field on the night. Senior guard Diante Baldwin (Greensboro, N.C./High Point Christian Academy) added 13 points and five assists.
The Spartans connected on 57.1 percent (28-of-49) from the field and 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from 3-point land. UNCG also held a 36-32 edge on the glass, marking the 14th time in 17 games it has out-rebounded the opponent.
Western Carolina (5-11, 0-3 SoCon) finished the night shooting 34.4 percent (22-of-64) from the field and 30.8 percent (4-of-13) from 3-point land. Haboubacar Mutombo paced the attack with 14 points while Onno Steger added 10 points.
The two teams traded baskets in the early going with the Spartans holding a 14-13 lead on a dunk by Dickey. UNCG got some breathing room with a 10-0 run to take a 24-13 lead with 7:55 remaining. Alonso started the run by converting an old-fashioned 3-point play while freshman guard Malik Massey (Charlotte, N.C./New Hampton Prep) hit a corner 3-pointer.
The Catamounts narrowed the gap to 34-30 with 1:08 remaining as they put together a 10-4 run. Adam Sledd scored the first four points of the run while Elijah Pughsley capped it with a 3-pointer. Junior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) sent the Spartans into the locker room with a 38-32 lead as he hit a jumper in the closing seconds.
UNCG connected on 55.6 percent (15-of-27) from the field and 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from deep in the first half. Alonso led all players with 19 points in the first half on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, including four 3-pointers. The Spartans committed eight first half turnovers though to keep the Catamounts in the game. Western Carolina connected on 37.5 percent (12-of-32) from the field and 37.5 percent (3-of-8) from distance. Pughsley led WCU with eight points off the bench in the first half.
The Spartans came out of the halftime break and broke the game open with a 31-8 run to take a 69-40 lead with 8:18 remaining. UNCG started the run by scoring in the post with Dickey nothing six points in the spurt before Baldwin and Massey got things going. Massey scored six during the run, including a 3-pointer, while Baldwin added eight points, capping the run with a shot from deep.
Massey finished the game with nine points in 16 minutes as he was a perfect 3-of-3 from the field. Senior center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) added seven points and seven rebounds before fouling out after eight minutes of play.