20 Wins! Men’s Basketball Snaps Furman’s Streaks With Big Road Win, 73-52
GREENVILLE, S.C. – The 2016-17 UNCG men’s basketball season is starting to look special as the Spartans picked up their 20th victory of the season by going to Southern Conference leading Furman and giving the Paladins their worst loss in almost two years with a 73-52 victory at Timmons Arena. The Spartans closed the game on a 24-3 run, snapping Furman’s 10-game winning streak overall and its 16-game home winning streak.
“There was a different look in our guys’ eyes tonight,” head coach Wes Miller said. “This group came in believing they could win in a tough place to play, against a very good Furman team. We knew it wouldn’t be easy coming in here and winning, but I was pleased with how we played. Our guys rose to the occasion tonight and we had guys step up making plays, whether on the defensive end or offensive end.”
The victory improves the Spartans to 20-8 overall, marking the fourth time in program history that UNCG has reached the 20-win mark. The Spartans also maintained their winning ways in the SoCon, improving to 11-4 overall, the third most SoCon wins in program history. The Spartans are now 6-2 on the road in SoCon play, marking the most road wins in the SoCon in a single season in program history.
UNCG sits alone in third place in the league, one game behind ETSU (12-3) and 1.5 games behind Furman (13-3) with three games remaining on the schedule. The Spartans are now a game in front of Chattanooga, which fell to 10-5 on the year. UNCG closes out the road portion of the regular season Wednesday night when it battles Mercer in Macon.
Sophomore guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) and senior guard Diante Baldwin (Greensboro, N.C./High Point Christian) combined to score 45 of the Spartans’ 73 points, each taking over a different half of basketball. Alonso led all scorers with 24 points, 17 of which came in the first half, connecting on 8-of-12 from the field and 7-of-11 from 3-point land.
Baldwin finished the night with 21 points, including a dominant second-half performance where he scored 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field. He finished the night shooting 9-of-13 overall from the field and dished out six assists. His assists made him the first player in UNCG basketball history to score at least 1,000 career points, grab 400 rebounds and dish out 400 assists.
“Diante has been with this program for four years and he has earned the right to have a night like this,” Miller said. “He is such a competitor and willed our team to victory tonight. He got us going in the second half with big shots and then other guys stepped up making shots when we needed it tonight.”
UNCG finished the night shooting 54.9 percent (28-of-51) from the field and 42.9 percent (12-of-28) from 3-point land against the SoCon’s top defensive team. The Spartans’ defense held Furman to just 34.5 percent (20-of-58) shooting from the field and only 25 percent (6-of-24) from 3-point land. UNCG also dominated play on the glass with a 37-30 advantage, led by 12 from redshirt freshman forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God).
The game started slowly for both teams as just four points total were scored in the first 3:20 of the game. Alonso took over from that point as he hit four straight 3-pointers to give the Spartans a 14-4 lead with 12:56 remaining. Furman connected on just one of its first 10 shots from the field but the Spartans committed six early turnovers to keep the game within 10 points.
Furman trimmed the gap to 18-11 as Daniel Fowler scored off a drive with 7:40 remaining. UNCG came back and took a 25-16 lead with 5:08 remaining as Alonso hit another 3-pointer and scored off a drive, giving him 17 points in the first half. The Paladins closed the first half on a 12-5 run to narrow the UNCG lead to 30-28 at the half. Jordan Lyons scored three points during the run while Devin Sibley scored back-to-back baskets in the final 41 seconds of the first half.
UNCG connected on 48 percent (12-of-25) from the field and 37.5 percent (6-of-16) from distance. Alonso led all scorers with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, including 5-of-6 from deep. Senior center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) added six points as the only other Spartan with more than one field goal. The Spartans committed 11 turnovers in the firs half, which Furman turned into 13 points.
Furman connected on 37.9 percent (11-of-29) from the field and 33.3 percent (3-of-9) from 3-point land. Sibley led the way with eight points while Lyons and Geoff Beans each added six points off the bench.
The Spartans came out of the break and scored the first four of the half, getting baskets by Dickey and White. Furman (20-9, 13-3 SoCon) responded and got the crowd behind it with an 11-2 run to take a 39-36 lead with 16:15 remaining. Sibley scored six points from behind the arc during the run while Kris Acox scored one of his three field goals on the game.
UNCG showed its mettle, responding with an 11-2 run of its own to retake the lead at 47-41 with 12:58 remaining. The run was ignited by a 3-point play underneath from White, out-muscling the Furman defenders for an offensive rebound a put-back. Baldwin gave UNCG the lead for good by hitting a 3-pointer and converting a 3-point play on back-to-back possession for the six-point lead.
The teams traded baskets until Furman made it a 52-49 UNCG advantage with 8:04 remaining on a Sibley runner. The Spartans responded 16 unanswered points on their way to a 24-3 run to close out the game. Dickey started the run with a pair of free throws after another offensive rebound before junior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) hit a huge 3-pointer for the 57-49 lead
The Spartans kept coming as Alonso hit two more 3-pointers during the run and Baldwin capped off the night with two more baskets in traffic as he got into the paint at will in the second half. The 21-point loss is the largest margin for Furman in SoCon since UNCG posted an 84-49 win Feb. 22, 2015.
White finished the game with nine points and eight rebounds as he was 4-of-9 from the field while also blocking three shots. Smith finished with seven points, all in the second half, including the big 3-point basket that ignited the game-ending run.
Sibley led Furman with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting but he was the only Paladin in double figures scoring. Acox was held to seven points and six rebounds while Beans scored nine off the bench and Lyons added eight points.
-- UNCG --