Menís Basketball Rallies Past The Citadel, 69-65 In Overtime
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG men’s basketball sophomore forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) scored the game-tying basket with 3.7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime where the Spartans pulled out a come-from-behind 69-65 victory over The Citadel Thursday night in Southern Conference action at the Greensboro Coliseum.
“I thought we showed a lot of toughness tonight,” head coach Wes Miller said. “We talk about toughness a lot. Not just individual toughness, but team toughness. I thought we had a toughness about our mentality and the way we approached the second half and overtime. We stuck together, we picked each other up and we started making plays to get back in the game. I am really proud of the way my team fought tonight.”
The Spartans rallied from a 12-point second half deficit to win their third straight game and surpass last season’s win total just 19 games into the season at 10-9 (9-22 last year). UNCG did not lead in the game until the overtime period, trailing the entire regulation time besides 23 seconds in the second half when the game was tied. The victory was also the sixth straight win over The Citadel in series history, improving to 17-7 all-time against the Bulldogs.
Locke finished the game with a team-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 38 minutes of action. He scored 16 of his points in the second half and overtime period as he was 7-of-15 from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line.
“Kayel was fantastic there down the stretch,” Miller said. “Things didn’t all go his way tonight but he persevered and didn’t put his head down. When he missed a chance to tie the game he didn’t give up and kept battling. He got another chance after they missed a free throw and worked to get great position for the game-tying basket with an offensive rebound. He was terrific tonight and it as a very impressive performance.”
Junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) notched his league-leading seventh double-double of the season with 20 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, 12 on the defensive end. Cain’s play helped the Spartans out-rebound the Bulldogs 45-34, including 27-16 after halftime for the top rebounding team in the conference.
UNCG (10-9, 3-1 SoCon) found itself trailing The Citadel 43-31 with 14:26 remaining in the second half after a three-pointer from Marshall Harris III. The Spartans started the long climb back with a 9-0 run to trim the deficit to 43-40 with 12:31 remaining. Locke was the catalyst in the burst, scoring six points, while sophomore Jordan Potts (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) hit a big three-pointer to get the crowd going at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Citadel (4-15, 0-4 SoCon) showed its fight, responding with five straight points, including a three-pointer from Ashton Moore to make it a 48-40 contest. Freshman guard Tevon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./St. Frances Academy) stepped up this time to ignite an 8-0 spurt, tying the game at 48-48. Saddler scored six points in the run as he attacked the basket at will against the Bulldogs before hitting a floater in the line for the game’s first tie with 4:57 remaining.
The Bulldogs quickly retook the lead and held a 57-53 lead with 2:34 left after Moore hit another three-pointer. Locke hit one of two free throws on the ensuing possession before the Spartans came up with their biggest defensive play of the game. Cain stepped in front of a Citadel pass at the top of the key and broke in alone for a fast break basket, making it a one-point game at 57-56.
After Moore hit a pair of free throws with 31.1 seconds left to extend the lead back to three, Cain was fouled in the post. He only hit one of two free throws but Harris III missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt, giving UNCG the ball with 16.7 seconds remaining trailing 59-57. The Spartans went into the post to Cain, who got a good look at the basket, but his shot was just off the mark. Locke was left alone on the backside of the basket and corralled the rebound before laying it in for the game-tying basket with 3.7 seconds left. The Citadel had a wild three-point attempt go well wide at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
After Saddler gave the Spartans their first lead with a free throw at 60-59, Moore hit a pair to put the Citadel back in front. On the next possession, junior Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) drained a three-pointer to put the Spartans in front 63-61, just his second long range make of the night and the Spartans’ fifth as a team. UNCG took care of business on the defensive glass and Potts hit a free throw before Cain nailed a jumper for a 66-61 lead.
Matt Van Scyoc hit a deep, turnaround three-pointer to pull the Bulldogs within two points at 66-64. The teams traded possessions with neither one finding a basket until the final minute. Locke once again came up with the big play as he drove down the lane and hit a tough, contested runner through contact giving UNCG a four-point lead with 19 seconds remaining. The Spartans were able to secure the victory as they traded free throws in the closing seconds for the improbable win.
UNCG finished the game shooting just 36.4 percent (24-of-66) from the field and only 29.4 percent (5-of-17) from long range in the victory, but were strong in the overtime, hitting 3-of-4 from the field. The Spartans also only committed 11 turnovers in the victory, while forcing the Bulldogs into 15 miscues on the strength of eight steals.
Saddler finished the night with nine points, six of which came in the crucial second half stretch before fouling out in the opening minute of overtime. Potts chipped in seven points, while Paulos added six points and five rebounds in the team victory.
The Citadel finished the night shooting 41.8 percent (23-of-55) from the field and hit 10-of-28 (35.7%) from long range. The Bulldogs were done in by hitting just 1-of-8 (12.5%) from the field in the overtime period and despite entering the game as one of the top free throw shooting teams in the SoCon, only made 9-of-18 (50%) from the charity stripe.
Moore led the Bulldogs with 21 points, including five three-pointers, while also handing out five assists and grabbing five rebounds. Van Scyoc posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds but was limited to just three points after the opening 20 minutes of play.
The Citadel came out of the gate quickly, jumping to a 14-2 lead early on as the Spartans struggled offensively. Van Scyoc and Moore hit early three-pointers for the Bulldogs. The Spartans slowed the run with eight straight points to narrow the gap to 14-10. Freshman guard Tyrone Outlaw (Roxboro, N.C./Person County) came off the bench and ignited the spurt with a three-pointer against the zone.
The Citadel answered back with three-pointers on consecutive possessions to extend the lead back to double figures. The Spartans kept battling, narrowing the gap down to five on two occasions but each time they did, the Bulldogs had an answer as Van Scyoc hit a three-pointer on the final possession of the half to take a 31-20 lead into the locker room.
The Spartans connected on just 23.3 percent (7-of-30) from the field and just 2-of-8 (25%) from long range in the opening 20 minutes. Cain Led the way with nine points and six rebounds in the half but only connected on 4-of-11 from the field. The Citadel ended the half shooting 47.8 percent (11-of-23) from the field, including five three-pointers. Van Scyoc led the way with 13 points and seven rebounds as he hit three long range shots.
The Spartans return to action in less than 48 hours as they host perennial SoCon power Davidson. Game time is set for 5 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum.
- UNCG -