GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team entered the game with the nation’s 14th-ranked scoring defense and leaned on that prowess Saturday night as the Spartans picked up their 19th win of the season with a 65-48 victory over Western Carolina at Fleming Gymnasium. The win keeps the Spartans alone in second place in the Southern Conference and sets up a big game Monday night at the Greensboro Coliseum as they host first-place ETSU at 7 p.m.
The Spartans’ defense limited the Catamounts to a season-low 48 points and snapped the Catamounts’ three-game winning streak. UNCG (19-6, 10-2 SoCon) held Western Carolina to just 32.1 percent (17-of-53) shooting from the field and only 23.8 percent (5-of-21) from 3-point land in the victory.
The win is the third-straight for UNCG and marks their eighth win in the last nine games. It is also the second-straight game that UNCG has led from start to finish. Additionally, the win improves the Spartans to 13-1 at home this season, tying the program-record for home wins. The 19 overall wins are tied for sixth-most in a single season in program history.
Senior forward Jordy Kuiper (Groningen, Netherlands/Canaries Basketball Academy) led four Spartans in double figures as nine different players scored in the win. Kuiper scored 12 points, hitting 4-of-6 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point land. Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) added 11 points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes of play, helping the Spartans out-rebound WCU 36-33.
Freshman guard Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) scored 10 points, dished out six assists, notched four steals and grabbed four rebounds off the bench. Miller was 5-of-7 from the field and did not commit a turnover in 21 minutes of play. Junior guard Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) added 10 points and three assists as he hit 3-of-5 from distance.
UNCG finished the game shooting 41.5 percent (22-of-53) from the field but just 26.1 percent (6-of-23) from long range. The Spartans went to the free throw line 23 times in the win, connecting on 15. Marc Gosselin led WCU with 15 points and nine rebounds as no other Catamount reached double figures.
The Spartans came out quickly, opening to a 12-4 lead just over three minutes into the contest. Dickey started scoring early, notching six points in the opening run while Troy added four points, including a 3-pointer. Western Carolina settled in and pulled within three at 18-115 when Marcus Thomas scored in the paint. UNCG maintained its lead throughout the first half, taking a 31-26 lead as Kuiper hit two free throws late.
Western Carolina pulled within three early in the second half at 34-31 before the Spartans pushed the lead to double figures with an 8-2 run taking a 47-36 lead with 11:02 remaining. Miller scored four points in the run to ignite the offense while sophomore forward Kyrin Galloway (Milton, Ga./Milton) scored four in the run, both of them off assists from Miller.
The Spartans’ defense held WCU without a field goal for a 5:38 margin of the second half and limited the Catamounts to only seven field goals. Western Carolina connected on just 25.9 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes as UNCG extended its lead to 17-points late as Kuiper nailed a 3-pointer with 1:11 remaining.
The Spartans close out their two-game home weekend Monday night as they host SoCon-leading ETSU. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum and is a Black Out Game. Fans are encouraged to wear black to support the Spartans and the first 1,000 fans will receive a free black UNCG t-shirt.
-- UNCG --