Senior center R.J. White scored 25 points in the loss Saturday night, his second-straight game of at least 25 points.
Senior center R.J. White scored 25 points in the loss Saturday night, his second-straight game of at least 25 points.
Courtesy: Photo Courtesy of Tim Cowie

Men’s Basketball Suffers Second-Straight SoCon Loss, Falling To Furman 01-28-2017

GREENSBORO, N.C. – For the first time since the beginning of January, the UNCG men’s basketball team will find itself outside of the top spot in the Southern Conference Standings as the Spartans dropped their second-straight game, falling to league foe Furman 73-67 in a hotly contested game at the Greensboro Coliseum Saturday afternoon in front of 3,884 fans. The back-to-back losses mark the first time all year UNCG has lost consecutive games.

The loss drops the Spartans to 16-7 overall on the season and 7-3 in SoCon play. The Spartans will be in third place in the league standings at the end of the day with Furman and ETSU tied for first at 7-2. Chattanooga sits just behind the Spartans in fourth place at 6-3. UNCG begins its toughest stretch of the season with three straight on the road, beginning with the longest road trip of the season with games at Chattanooga Thursday and Samford Saturday.

“You have to give Furman credit, they hit some tough shots today,” head coach Wes Miller said. “I am proud of my guys for battling and fighting all game long but we made too many turnovers, which led to easy points for Furman. We are going to find out a lot about our team’s character in the next 10 days. Having lost two in a row and now we go on the road for three straight. We have to come in with the mindset of getting better each day in practice and bringing that on game day. Nobody ever said conference play was going to be easy, now we have to step up to the challenge.”

Senior center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) turned in his second straight games of 25 or more points, scoring a game-high 25 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 33 minutes of action. White connected on 8-of-11 from the field and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line, battling through contact all game long. Senior guard Diante Baldwin (Greensboro, N.C./High Point Christian) was the only other Spartan to reach double figures in the loss with 14 points and four assists.

The Spartans finished the game shooting 45.1 percent (23-of-51) from the field and were just 7-of-21 (33.3%) from 3-point land. UNCG connected on all 14 of its free throws but committed 16 turnovers. Furman (14-8, 7-2 SoCon) turned those miscues into 20 points in its fourth straight victory. The Paladins connected on 47.3 percent (26-of-55) from the field and 32.0 percent (8-of-25) from 3-point land.

Devin Sibley led the way with 24 points, 22 of which came in the second half, as he was 9-of-11 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Kris Acox posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists while John Davis added 13 points and six rebounds.

Furman came out and opened to an early 12-6 lead as the Paladins hit two early 3-pointes from Davis and Daniel Fowler. Furman maintained it lead at 19-12 before UNCG posted a 20-8 run to take a 32-27 lead with 3:54 remaining in the half. White started the run by scoring four straight points before junior Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) nailed a 3-pointer. Baldwin gave the Spartans the lead with an old-fashioned 3-point play and put them in front by five with a basket in transition, forcing the Paladins into a timeout.

Furman responded as it closed the half on an 8-1 run to take a 35-33 lead into the locker room. The Paladins did damage from the outside, getting 3-pointers from Lyons and Andrew Brown.

Furman held a 44-38 lead early in the second half before UNCG scored six straight to tie the game at 44-44. White was again the catalyst, scoring four straight, including the game-tying basket with 14:09 remaining.

The Paladins kept coming and extended their lead back to six at 50-44 with a 3-point play by Sibley. UNCG rallied again and pulled within one on four different occasions but were unable to get over the hump. Furman scored seven straight to take a 67-59 lead with 4:6 remaining with Sibley leading the way with five points.

UNCG had one final push as it scored six straight points to make it a 67-65 contest with 1:50 remaining. White scored the first four points before sophomore guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) hit a floater in the lane. After foul shots by Davis, junior Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) scored off an assist from White to make it a 69-67 game with 1:22 remaining.

The Spartans’ defense stepped up on the ensuing possession and forced a shot clock violation for the fourth time in the game, turning the ball over to UNCG. Alonso had a chance to tie the game in the lane with contact but couldn’t get his shot to fall. Furman sealed the victory with four straight free throws in the final 22.1 seconds of the game.

-- UNCG --

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