Menís Basketball Remains Perfect On The Road In SoCon Play With Win At VMI
LEXINGTON, Va. – The UNCG men’s basketball team continued its winning ways Saturday afternoon as the Spartans picked up their 14th winning of the season and improved to 5-1 in Southern Conference play with a 91-82 victory over hosting VMI at Cameron Hall.
The victory keeps the Spartans on top of the SoCon standings and runs their winning streak to four straight games while moving UNCG to 3-0 on the road this season in league play. The 14-5 start for the Spartans is the best in 21 years, matching the 1995-96 campaign for the second-best start in program history.
“Our guys found a way to win today on the road,” head coach Wes Miller said. “To come out of the week with two road wins is a hard thing to do and our guys gutted it out this week with wins at ETSU and VMI. Credit the Keydets for not giving in as they kept coming at us but we were able to come back home with a win. It wasn’t our best performance, but we shot the ball well and some guys stepped up for us today.”
All five Spartans starters scored in double figures in the win to move to 14-5 on the season. UNCG finished the game shooing 59.3 percent (32-of-54) from the field and 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from deep. The Spartans were also strong from the free throw line hitting 18-of-24 (75%).
Sophomore guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) led the way in his second career start as he scored a career-high 20 points and dished out five assists. Troy connected on 7-of-10 from the field, 3-of-4 from 3-point land and 3-of-3 from the charity stripe.
Senior guard Diante Baldwin (Greensboro, N.C./High Point Christian) added 20 points and five assists as well. Baldwin hit 7-of-9 from the field, including both of his 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) added 14 points and four rebounds while senior center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) added 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Junior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) rounded out the double figure scorers with 11 points and eight rebounds as he was 5-of-7 from the field.
VMI (4-12, 1-4 SoCon) finished the day shooting 47.0 percent (31-of-66) from the field and 38.7 percent (12-of-31) from 3-point land. QJ Peterson, the league’s leading scorer, finished with 31 points for the Keydets on 12-of-19 shooting from the field. Julian Eleby added 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the loss.
The Spartans came out and held an early 17-14 lead as they opened the game scoring the first eight points in the paint to establish their play, beginning with an opening dunk by White. The Keydets settled in and posted a 13-1 run to force UNCG into a timeout as VMI opened to a 27-18 lead. The Keydets started to hit from the outside as Trey Chapman hit one and Armani Branch had two straight for the nine-point lead.
The Spartans answered right back with 11 straight points, including seven straight from Alonso. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers and was fouled on the second for a 4-point play. UNCG kept coming as it closed out the first half on a 30-7 run to take a 48-34 lead into the locker room. Troy scored the last eight points of the first half for the Spartans, capping it with an old-fashioned 3-point play with 3.7 seconds left.
The Spartans connected on 57.7 percent (15-of-26) from the field and 50 percent (5-of-10) from distance in the first half. UNCG was strong from the free throw line hitting 13-of-15 (86.7%), led by Troy and James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) hitting 4-of-4 each. Troy led the way with 11 points while Alonso added 10 points as eight different Spartans scored in the half. VMI connected on 41.9 percent (13-of-31) from the field and 33.3 percent (5-of-15) from distance in the first half.
The Spartans started the second half much like they ended the first as they posted a 10-4 run to extend the lead to 58-38 with 16:39 remaining. White again opened the half scoring in the paint before Baldwin scored on back-to-back drives into the paint. Troy capped the run as he scored off a fast break basket after picking the pocket of the VMI player on defense.
UNCG would maintain its comfortable lead for most of the season half, still leading by 20 at 82-62 with 5:50 remaining. The Keydets made one final push, scoring 11 straight points to narrow the deficit to single digits. Eleby scored five in the run while Peterson hit one of his five 3-pointers. The Spartans would do enough down the stretch on defense and at the free throw line to seal the victory.
Dickey finished the day with eight points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists off the bench in 22 minutes of action.
UNCG returns home for three of its next four games, beginning Thursday night when the Spartans welcome in Mercer for a 7 p.m. tip-off at the Greensboro Coliseum.
-- UNCG --