GREENSBORO, N.C. – Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) scored a career-high 32 points and helped the UNCG men’s basketball team rally from an 11-point second half deficit as the Spartans pulled away from Colonial Athletic Association member Delaware 79-66 Monday night in the UNCG Spartan Classic at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans out-scored the Blue Hens 46-32 in the second half and used a game-changing 24-4 run to take the lead for good.
UNCG returns to action Tuesday evening as it hosts Longwood in the UNCG Spartan Classic at 7:30 p.m. Delaware will play North Carolina Wesleyan at 4:30 p.m. in the event with both games slated for the Greensboro Coliseum.
Alonso was hot from the start, scoring 21 of his career-high in the first half. He finished the game shooting 10-of-14 from the field and hit 8-of-10 from 3-point land while connecting on all four of his free throws. Early in the first half he became the 23rd play in UNCG history to reach the 1,000-career point mark, fittingly surpassing the mark with a 3-pointer off a screen. His 32 points are the most by a Spartan since Tevon Saddler scored 34 points in the season opener against East Carolina in 2013-14.
UNCG improved to 3-1 on the season as it connected on 47.2 percent (25-of-53) from the field and hit 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from 3-point land in the victory. The Spartans also connected on 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the free throw line and came back from a first half deficit on the glass to out-rebound Delaware 32-27. Delaware (2-2) connected on 45.3 percent (24-of-53) from the field but hit just 6-of-17 (35.3%) from 3-point land.
Senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 32 minutes of play, hitting three 3-pointers. Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) rounded out the Spartans in double digit scoring with 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds, blocking four shots and notching three steals. Dickey connected on 5-of-8 from the field and hit both of his free throws.
Delaware opened the game on a 13-3 run as it held the momentum from the tip. Ryan Allen and Ryan Daly provided the spark for the Blue Hens, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers. The Spartans settled in and took an 18-17 lead with a 14-4 run at the 7:18 mark of the first half. Alonso provided the lift hitting three 3-pointers in the spurt, while freshman Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) scored off a drive and Dickey gave UNCG the lead with a basket in the paint.
The Blue Hens responded with a 10-2 run to move the lead to 28-20 as Daly scored seven points in the run, including a 3-pointer that forced a UNCG timeout. The Spartans were able to close the half on a 13-6 run to head into the locker room trailing by just one at 34-33. Marvin Smith hit a 3-pointer on the final possession of the half to make it a one-point contest, nailing a deep shot with three seconds remaining.
Delaware came out of the halftime break and quickly jumped on the Spartans, recording a 10-0 run to take a 44-33 lead just under four minutes into the second half. Daly started it with a 3-pointer while Anthony Mosley scored five points, capping the run with a 3-point play.
The Spartans showed their mettle as they answered back with a game-changing 24-4 run to take a 57-48 lead, a lead they would never relinquish. UNCG scored 18-straight at one point, holding Delaware without a basket over a span of 7:57. Alonso started the run with a 3-pointer and nearly capped the spurt with another long-distance shot. Sophomore guard Malik Massey (Charlotte, N.C./New Hampton Prep) converted a 3-point play to ignite UNCG while Dickey scored four points in the run.
Delaware would pull within eight points at 63-55 with 5:18 remaining on an Allen 3-pointer but the Spartans extended the lead out to as many as 18 at 79-61 with 45 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God). Troy finished the game with eight points and four assists in 27 minutes of play while Massey added eight pints off the bench in 16 minutes.
-- UNCG --