The Spartans return to action Monday night when they host preseason Southern Conference favorite Chattanooga at 7 p.m.
The Spartans return to action Monday night when they host preseason Southern Conference favorite Chattanooga at 7 p.m.
Courtesy: Photo Courtesy of Carlos Morales

Menís Basketball Stumbles At Home Against Samford 12-31-2016

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team turned in a cold-shooting performance on New Year’s Eve as the Spartans suffered a 73-62 loss to visiting Samford Saturday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans look to bounce back and get above .500 in Southern Conference play in just 48 hours when they host preseason league favorite Chattanooga Monday night in a 7 p.m. tip-off.

The Spartans (10-5, 1-1 SoCon) connected on just 37.9 percent (22-of-58) from the field and only 23.1 percent (6-of-26) from 3-point land in their first home loss at the Greensboro Coliseum in league play since Jan. 21 last year (Chattanooga). UNCG’s 62 points is the lowest scoring output for the Spartans since the first three games of the year. Additionally, the Spartans committed 15 turnovers in the loss, which Samford turned into 22 points off those miscues.

Junior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) posted his second career double-double and first of the season in the loss. Kuiper scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes before fouling out, as he was 6-of-7 from the field. Sophomore guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) added 13 points, while senior center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) chipped in eight points and 11 rebounds.

Samford (10-4, 1-0 SoCon) opened its league season with a key road win as the Bulldogs connected on 45.7 percent (21-of-46) from the field and 45.5 percent (10-of-22) from 3-point land. Demetrius Denzel-Dyson led the Bulldogs with 16 points and six assists while Triston Chambers and Christen Cunningham each added 14 points in the victory.

The Spartans stated slowly, connected on just two of their first 12 shots and found themselves down 10-5 over eight minutes into the game. UNCG started to settle in as it turned up the play on defense, forcing Samford into two straight shot clock violations as freshman Malik Massey (Charlotte, N.C./New Hampton Prep) hit a pair of free throws and Alonso nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 12-12.

Samford responded with 11 straight points, highlighted by three straight 3-pointers, including a pair from Triston Chambers to give the Bulldogs a 23-12 lead. The Spartans scored six straight points to narrow the gap to five at 23-18 when senior guard Diante Baldwin (Greensboro, N.C./High Point Christian) stole the ball on the press and scored on the fast break.

UNCG went into the locker room trailing 25-20 despite hitting just 22.2 percent (6-of-27) from the field and 16.7 percent (2-of-12) from 3-point land. The Spartans hit all six of their free throws, including four from Massey to lead the way. Samford connected on 33.3 percent (8-of-24) from the field and 36.4 percent (4-of-11) from deep in the first half. Christen Cunningham scored eight points to lead Samford while Chambers added six points in the opening 20 minutes.

The Spartans came out of the locker room and opened the second half on a 10-4 run to take a 30-29 lead. White started the scoring with a basket down low before Kuiper scored four straight in the paint. Junior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) put the Spartans in front with a dunk in transition.

The lead was short lived though as Samford answered back with a 17-6 run to extend the lead back to double figures at 46-36 with 12:42 remaining. The Bulldogs hit four 3-pointers during the run, including two from Denzel-Dyson while Josh Starkey converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to give Samford back the momentum.

The Spartans tried to claw back into the game but could get not closer than they five-point deficit. Each time UNCG made a small run, Samford would respond with back-to-back baskets to keep its cushion intact as the Spartans could not come up with enough stops on the defensive end or shots to fall on the offensive end.

-- UNCG --

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