GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team set a program-record with 14 blocked shots as the Spartans picked up a pivotal Southern Conference win with a 74-56 victory over league-leading ETSU Monday night in front of 4,179 fans at the Greensboro Coliseum. The victory snaps the nation’s longest winning streak as the Bucs entered the game winners of 16-straight games and moves the Spartans one game behind ETSU in the loss column in the league standings.
The victory improves to the Spartans to 20-6 overall and 11-2 in league play while ETSU falls to 22-5 overall and 13-1 in SoCon action. The win marks the sixth time in program history that the Spartans have reached 20 wins and the second-straight season accomplishing that feat. Additionally, the win improves UNCG to 14-1 at home this season, setting a new program-record for home victories in a year.
The Spartans entered the game with the nation’s eighth ranked defense and lived up to that prowess in the victory. UNCG held the Buccaneers to a season-low 54 points and it is the lowest scoring output for ETSU since Nov. 20, 2015 vs. No. 11 Villanova. UNCG did most of its damage close to the rim, setting a single-game team record with 14 blocked shots. The 14 blocked shots surpasses the previous team record of 13 set in 2004 against William & Mary. The Spartans defense at the rim held ETSU to just 30.3 percent (20-of-66) shooting from the field and also just 26.3 percent (5-of-19) from 3-point land.
Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) was the catalyst on the back line, setting a UNCG single-game record with eight blocked shots. Dickey’s eight blocked shots surpasses Kyle Hines’ record of seven blocked shots in a game, which happened five times in Hines’ career. Dickey also finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes of play. Sophomore forward Kyrin Galloway (Milton, Ga./Milton) added three blocks off the bench while senior Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) added a pair.
Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) led three Spartans in double figures scoring with a team-high 20 points. Alonso connected on 3-of-7 from 3-point land and hit all five of his free throws in the victory. Junior guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) turned in one of his top performances of the season, scoring a season-high 17 points. Troy connected on 6-of-8 from the field and hit all four of his 3-pointers.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 49.1 percent (27-of-55) from the field and 55 percent (11-of-20) from 3-point land despite ETSU entering the game holding opponents to a league-low in both categories. Senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) fought through foul trouble ad added 13 points and five rebounds, while shooting 3-of-4 from deep. Desonta Bradford was the only ETSU player in double figures in the loss, scoring 21 points on 8-of-22 shooting, including 1-of-7 from deep.
The Spartans came out with energy at home, scoring the game’s first five points and opening to an 8-2 run. Alonso started the scoring with three free throws and Smith capped the early spurt with a 3-pointer in transition. The Buccaneers settled in and pulled within four at 13-9 after a David Burrell tip-in.
The Spartans pushed the lead out to double figures at 23-11 with a 10-2 run. Alonso was the spark, scoring eight points in the run, including back-to-back 3-pointers forcing ETSU into a timeout. UNCG maintained its 11-point lead at 29-18 with 3:36 remaining in the first half but the Bucs closed on a 13-4 run to heading into the locker room down just two at 33-31. ETSU hit three 3-pointers in the run, including a buzzer beater from Jalan McCloud. Those 3-pointers were three of the five ETSU would finish with in the game.
The Spartans came out of the halftime break on a 7-2 run to take a 40-33 lead. Alonso hit a 3-pointer off an assist from Kuiper and Kuiper added a basket in the pain. ETSU narrowed the gap to 44-39 with 14:53 remaining on a Devontavius Payne 3-pointer, but the Spartans scored the next nine points to grow the lead to double figures again at 53-39. UNCG scored on three-straight possession in the paint before Kuiper capped the run with a 3-pointer.
UNCG ended any doubt of the final with a 17-8 run late in the game to extend the lead to a game-high 20 points at 74-54. Troy heated up down the stretch, scoring seven points, including a 4-point play while Smith hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final three minutes putting the exclamation point on the victory.
Kuiper finished the game with five points and a team-high eight rebounds. Freshman guard Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) added eight points off the bench on 4-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes as he battled through foul trouble.
UNCG hits the road for three straight games, beginning Thursday evening when the Spartans travel to Charleston, S.C., for a meeting with The Citadel. The Spartans will also travel to Mercer Saturday and Wofford next Tuesday for its final three road games of the year.
-- UNCG --