GREENSBORO, N.C. – What a difference a half makes. The UNCG men’s basketball team found itself staring at its largest halftime deficit of the year at 14-points before turning the tables on Wofford in the second half to post a thrilling, come-from-behind 71-67 victory over the Terriers in the Southern Conference opener for both teams at the Greensboro Coliseum Saturday evening.
The Spartans (10-4, 1-0 SoCon) out-scored Wofford 38-20 in the second half to rally from a 47-33 halftime deficit and did their damage on the defensive end, limiting the Terriers to their lowest scoring half of the season. Wofford, which shot 60.7 percent (17-of-28) from the field and 61.5 percent (8-of-13) from 3-point land in the first half, was held to only 30.8 percent shooting from the field (8-of-26) and distance (4-of-13) in the final 20 minutes of the game.
The Spartans’ defense entered the game tops in the SoCon and ranked 15th in the nation, held the Terriers 10 points under their season average. UNCG forced Wofford into 14 turnovers, 12 of which came in the second half. Additionally, the Spartans held the SoCon’s leading scoring Fletcher Magee scoreless in the second half after he erupted for 21 points in the first half of the game with senior Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) getting the call primarily on the defensive end in the matchup.
Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) ignited the Spartans on the offensive end, scoring a game-high 26 points including 18 in the second half. Alonso connected on 6-of-10 from 3-point land on the night and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) added 11 points and seven rebounds as six different Spartans scored six or more points in the victory. Senior forward Garrett Collins (Asheville, N.C./Fishburne Military Academy) scored a career-high 12 points off the bench, hitting 4-of-8 from distance to keep the Spartans in the game. UNCG finished the game shooting 46.2 percent (24-of-52) from the field and 40.7 percent (11-of-27) from distance in the win.
Magee led the Terriers with 21 points, as he was 7-of-19 shooting from the field and 6-of-13 from 3-point land. He was 0-of-8 from the field and 0-of-5 from distance in the second half after his sizzling first half performance. Cameron Jackson added 12 points and eight rebounds while Trevor Stumpe scored 15 points as Wofford fell to 8-5 overall on the year and 0-1 in league play.
Both teams came out of the gate quickly on the offensive end, opening to a 17-17 stalemate at the 11:44 mark. The Spartans posted the game’s first run, scoring nine-straight to take a 24-17 lead. Sophomore forward Kyrin Galloway (Milton, Ga./Milton) started the run with a 3-point play while Collins capped the spurt hitting the first of his three first half 3-pointers.
Wofford and Magee answered right back with seven points in a span of 22 seconds, tying the game at 24-24. Magee hit a 3-pointer on one possession and converted a 4-point play on the ensuing possession to knot the game up again. The Terriers would close the first half on a 21-4 run to take a 47-33 lead into the locker room. Storm Murphy and Derrick Brooks started the run with consecutive 3-pointers before Magee hit three 3-pointers in the final 3:18 of the half to give Wofford the 14-point lead.
The Spartans came out of the halftime break and started the sway the momentum on the defensive end, getting four-straight stops to start the half. UNCG trailed 54-42 at the 15:27 mark before posting a 15-0 run to take a 57-54 lead at the 8:56 mark. The Spartans held the Terriers to 0-of-9 shooting and forced three turnovers during the 6:31 stretch that changed the complexion of the game.
Alonso got things going with a 3-pointer, scoring eight of the 15 points during the stretch. Galloway scored on a fast break basket to narrow the gap to two at 54-52 before Collins nailed his fourth 3-pointer of the night giving UNCG the lead at 55-54.
Stumpe tied the game at 57-57 before Alonso scored 5-straight points giving UNCG a 62-57 lead with 6:32 remaining. After a Jackson basket, Dickey and sophomore guard Malik Massey (Charlotte, N.C./New Hampton Prep) scored on consecutive possessions to extend the lead to seven at 66-59.
Wofford kept battling and pulled within two at 66-64 on a 3-pointer by Murphy. The Spartans missed on their ensuing possession but Smith came up with a crucial offensive rebound forcing the Terriers to foul with 45.1 seconds remaining. Smith hit one of two at the line to extend the lead to 67-64 and the Spartans forced a turnover by the Terriers sending themselves back to the charity stripe. UNCG would connect on four of its last six in the final 19.1 seconds to seal the stunning victory over the Terriers.
Smith finished the game with six points, all at the free throw line while pulling defensive duty on the night. Massey and Galloway added seven points apiece off the bench as UNCG out-scored the Terriers 28-4 off the bench as the Spartans’ depth played a crucial role in the victory.
The Spartans will be off until next weekend when they start a three-game road swing at VMI. Game time is set for 1 p.m. in Lexington, Va., and will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the ESPN App.
-- UNCG --