GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team made it a two-point game against Wake Forest with 23 seconds remaining and got a defensive stop, but the Spartans were whistled out of bounds on the rebound giving Wake Forest second chance to extend the lead as the Spartans suffered a hard-fought 81-75 contest to the Demon Deacons Friday night at the LJVM Coliseum.
Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) scored a game-high 31 points, marking the second time in three games he has scored over 30-points this season. Alonso hit the jumper with 23 seconds remaining to make it a 77-75 game before Wake Forest hit four-straight free throws to seal the victory. Alonso finished the game shooting 11-of-17 from the field and 7-of-10 from 3-point land on the night. Senior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) added a season-high 11 points as he hit 3-of-6 from deep, all in the first half.
UNCG (4-2) saw its four-game winning streak come to an end with the loss despite shooting 49.0 percent (25-of-51) from the field and 50 percent (13-of-26) from 3-point land. The Spartans were uncharacteristically off from the free throw line though, hitting just 54.5 percent (12-of-22).
The Spartans entered the game fourth in the nation in scoring defense but allowed their highest defensive output of the year with Wake Forest scoring 81 points. The Demon Deacons shot season-highs from the field at 61.5 percent (24-of-39) and from 3-point land at 57.1 percent (8-of-14), including 5-of-6 in the second half. Keyshawn Woods scored 20 point off the bench on 6-of-9 shooting while Doral Moore added 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field for Wake Forest.
The Spartans found themselves down by a game-high 12 points in the second half at 56-44 after a jumper by Woods. UNCG stated to chip away at the deficit and narrowed the gap to just three at 67-64 with 4:33 remaining as Alonso hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cap a 20-11 run for the Spartans.
Each time the Spartans were able to pull within striking distance though, Wake Forest capitalized offensively to extend the lead back out. The Demon Deacons took a 75-66 lead with 2:17 remaining when Woods hit a deep 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring to give them a nine-point advantage.
The Spartans rattled off seven-straight points to make it a 75-73 game with 36 seconds remaining. Alonso hit a pair of free throws to start the run and senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) nailed a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four. The Spartans had a chance to get it even closer, but only hit one-of-two from the free throw line in back-to-back chances.
After a pair of free throws from Moore, Alonso cut the lead to two once again with a pull-up jumper with 23 seconds remaining. The Spartans’ full court pressure sped up Wake Forest and Chaundee Brown missed a layup opportunity. Sophomore guard Malik Massey (Charlotte, N.C./New Hampton Prep) came down with the rebound and UNCG looked like it would have the ball down two, but Massey was ruled out on the baseline giving the ball back to Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons hit four-straight free throws to seal the victory and end the Spartans’ attempt to extend their winning streak.
Smith finished the game with 10 points despite being saddled with foul trouble most of the night. He connected on 5-of-6 from the free throw line and hit a big 3-pointer in the Spartans’ rally. Junior guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) added seven points while Dickey led the team with eight rebounds. UNCG was out-rebounded for the first time all year by a 28-23 margin.
The Spartans continue their three-game road swing Tuesday night when they travel to Presbyterian. Game time is set for 7 p.m. in Clinton, S.C., and will be broadcast on the Big South Network.
-- UNCG --