Menís Basketball Holds Off Chattanooga, 88-84
GREENSBORO, N.C. –The UNCG men’s basketball team picked up a pivotal Southern Conference victory Sunday afternoon as the Spartans knocked off second-place Chattanooga 88-84 at the Greensboro Coliseum. Eight different Spartans scored at least six points on their way to their second largest scoring output this season in the SoCon and the fourth-highest total overall to improve to 6-8 in league play, taking over sole possession of sixth place in the conference.
“I am pleased we found a way to gut one out today, especially for our seniors,” head coach Wes Miller said. “You want to send your seniors out the right way and we did that today. What Drew Parker has done and been through for this program during his career and what Tyler McNeely does each and every day in practice, it is fitting we won for them on senior day. Today was a hard-fought win. It wasn’t perfect, but you have to be happy getting tough wins in February.”
Junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) posted his 11th double-double of the season and led three players in double figures scoring. Cain finished with game with a game-high 24 points and a team-high 10 rebounds as he was 7-of-10 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
Freshman guard Tevon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./St. Frances Academy) added 13 points and four steals in the victory, despite going just 5-of-14 from the field. Sophomore forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) rounded out the double figure scorers at 12 points and five rebounds as he was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
The hard-nosed battle saw 57 fouls called between the two teams, resulting in 77 total free throw attempts. The Spartans connected on 78.1 percent (25-of-32) from the free throw line while the Mocs hit 34-of-45 (75.6%) from the line in the game. UNCG finished the night shooting 46.7 percent (28-of-60) from the field and 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from long range in the victory while Chattanooga was limited to 39 percent (23-of-59) from the field and just 4-of-17 (23.5%) from distance.
Casey Jones led two Chattanooga players with double-doubles with a team-high 21 points and 11 rebounds, despite only playing 30 minutes as he fouled out with 2:34 left to play. Z. Mason added 19 points and 11 rebounds, but he was just 3-of-15 from the field. Mason did hit 12-of-16 from the free throw line to overcome his tough night shooting.
The two teams came out and battled back-and-forth for the first eight minutes before Chattanooga scored six straight points to take a 19-13 lead. Mason led the way early with five points during the spurt and the Mocs extended their lead to double figures at 27-17 with 7:47 remaining in the half after Greg Pryor hit a pair of free throws.
UNCG (13-16, 6-8 SoCon) trailed 34-25 with 5:44 left in the half before scoring seven straight points on its way to a 17-3 run to close out the first half. The Spartans’ reserves stepped up down the stretch as sophomore Jordan Potts (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) scored five points, including a three-pointer, while freshman Tyrone Outlaw (Roxboro, N.C./Person County) also added five, capping the run with a three-pointer giving the Spartans a 42-37 halftime lead.
The Spartans connected on 52 percent (13-of-25) from the field and hit 4-of-5 from three-point land in the opening 20 minutes Cain led the way with 12 points while junior Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) added eight points, including a pair of three-pointers. Chattanooga was held to 34.5 percent (10-of-29) from the field and just 1-of-6 from long range but hit 16-of-22 (72.7%) from the free throw line.
The Spartans continued to hold the momentum early in the second half, scoring the first four points of the half as Saddler and redshirt freshman center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) added baskets to take a 46-37 lead.
Chattanooga (16-13, 10-4 SoCon) responded with 10 straight points to take a 47-46 lead. The Mocs posted their run in a span of just 2:03 as Jones got going, scoring six points in the spurt either in the paint or at the free throw line.
The Spartans did not back down from the pressure, scoring seven straight points and recording a 15-4 run to take a 64-53 lead. UNCG’s answer spanned a stretch of 3:22 of the second half. Locke ignited the play with six points in the run while freshman Diante Baldwin (Greensboro, N.C./High Point Christian) and Cain hit three-pointers during the spurt.
The see-saw affair saw Chattanooga have another response, posting nine straight points to narrow the gap to 69-67 with 8:36 remaining. Mason scored four in the run, including a three-pointer that cut the deficit to two points. The teams traded baskets over the next five minutes until UNCG tallied an 8-3 run to take an 86-77 lead with 1:41 remaining. The Spartans got big baskets from four different players, with Locke capping the run with a basket after Baldwin soared for an offensive rebound.
Chattanooga turned up the pressure and scored seven straight points using the full court press to create offense. Ronrico White hit a big three-pointer after UNCG was forced into a turnover and he also hit a pair of free throws to make it an 86-84 contest with 42 seconds remaining. The Spartans got the ball inbounds against the Chattanooga pressure and the Mocs were forced to foul Potts. He calmly stepped up and drained both free throws to make it a one-possession game with 31 seconds remaining and the Mocs’ three-point attempts on the final possession were well off the mark sealing the victory.
Potts finished the game with seven points as he was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Outlaw added nine points off the bench while Paulos finished with eight points. White and Baldwin each chipped in six points in the all-around team effort for UNCG. White added 11 points off the bench for the Mocs but hit just 2-of-10 from the field and only 2-of-7 from long range. Gee McGhee rounded out Chattanooga’s double figure scorers at 12 points while Pryor finished with eight points.
UNCG closes out the regular season with two straight road games next week, beginning Thursday night as the Spartans travel to Davidson. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Belk Arena.
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