GREEVILLE, S.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team completed the season series sweep of Southern Conference foe Furman Wednesday night as the Spartans led wire-to-wire in an 80-67 victory over the Paladins at Timmons Arena. The victory improves the Spartans to 18-6 overall on the year and keeps them alone in second place in the league with a 9-2 SoCon mark.
The victory marks the third-straight in the series against the Paladins and is the second-straight win for UNCG at Timmons Arena. Furman has only lost six games at home over the last two years with the Spartans holding two of those wins, including just two out of the three SoCon home losses for the Paladins.
All five starters scored in the double figures as UNCG shot 53.6 percent (30-of-56) from the field and 40 percent (8-of-20) from 3-point land. It marked the first time this season that all five starters have scored in double figures. Senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) led the way with 18 points as he was 4-of-9 from the field and hit 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) posted his third double-double of the year, scoring 11 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
Dickey’s play helped the Spartans dominate the Paladins on the glass, out-rebounding Furman by a 38-17 margin, including a 12-2 edge in offensive rebounds. The Spartans’ play on the glass helped UNCG out-score Furman 12-0 in second chance points.
Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) added 12 points, four assists, four rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes. Alonso connected on a pair of 3-pointers on the night. Junior guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) added 12 points and five assists as he was 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. Senior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) rounded out the double figure scorers with 10 points, including 2-of-4 shooting form 3-point land.
Furman entered the game second in the SoCon in scoring at 80.2 points per game but the Spartans limited them 13 points under their average at 67 points. The Paladins connected on 50 percent (25-of-50) from the field but just 33.3 percent (8-of-24) from 3-point land. Furman struggled from the free throw line hitting 9-of-15 (60%), including missing the front end of a one-and-one three times. Andrew Brown led Furman with 15 points, hitting 4-of-6 from deep, while Daniel Fowler added 12 points.
The Spartans came out of the gate fast, scoring the first eight points of the game and opening to a 21-7 lead at the 12:08 mark. Kuiper ignited the early run with a pair of 3-pointers while Troy scored five of the first eight points of the game. Smith added four points, including a big 3-pointer in transition.
Furman (16-9, 7-5 SoCon) came back and scored the next seven points to trim the deficit to 21-14. The Spartans pushed the lead back to double figures at 29-18 on a basket by senior guard Justin Jordan (Davidson, N.C./Milwaukee) before Furman answered with an 11-2 run to pull within 31-29 with 3:23 remaining. The Paladins started to hit from the outside during the run with Fowler and Geoff Beans hitting consecutive 3-pointers.
Sophomore forward Kyrin Galloway (Milton, Ga./Milton) hit a big 3-pointer to extend the lead back to five and the Spartans went into the locker room with a 36-31 lead. UNCG came out of the break and scored the first five points to push the lead back to double figure at 41-31. Smith scored all five points in the start of the half to key the offense.
Furman had another run in it, posting a 7-2 spurt to narrow the gap to 43-40. The Spartans responded to the adversity with a 10-2 run taking a 53-42 lead. Dickey started to go to work in the post, scoring four points while Kuiper also scored down low.
The Spartans ended any doubt with another 10-2 run to put them in front 70-53 with 4:25 remaining. Smith had pivotal plays on both ends of the court as he had a chase down block on Jordan Lyons on a fast break that led to an Alonso 3-pointer. He also scored five of the 10 points in the run, all from the foul, line to ice the victory.
The Spartans return home for two games this weekend, beginning Saturday evening when they host Western Carolina. The game will be played on campus at Fleming Gymnasium and is set for a 5 p.m. start.
-- UNCG --