Menís Basketball Upset By The Citadel At The SoCon Tournament
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The sixth-seeded UNCG men’s basketball team suffered an 86-76 loss to 11th-seeded The Citadel in the first round of the 2014 Southern Conference Tournament held at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville. The loss ends the Spartans season at 14-18 on the year, while The Citadel advances to the quarterfinals to take on third-seeded Wofford.
“The credit has to go to The Citadel,” head coach Wes Miller said. “They have had a rough season but the way they ended their regular season says a lot of about their character and their coach. They are playing with a lot of confidence and that was evident in how they shot the ball tonight. We got good looks offensively, we just couldn’t get those shots to fall while they seemed to get every shot to fall.”
Junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) led four Spartans in double figures in the loss, scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds as UNCG out-scored the Bulldogs 36-22 in the paint. Redshirt freshman center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) added 15 points and five rebounds off the bench as he was 5-of-10 from the field and hit all five of his free throws. White ended the season scoring in double figures in five of the last six games of the year, averaging 13.5 points per game down the stretch off the bench.
The Citadel (7-25) did its damage from the outside, hitting 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) from long range and finishing the game shooting 52 percent (26-of-50) from the field. The duo of Ashton Moore and Matt Van Scyoc combined for 44 of The Citadel’s 86 points with Moore leading the way with 24 points and Van Scyoc with 20.
The Spartans finished the night shooting 44.4 percent (28-of-63) overall from the field, but only hit 2-of-12 (16.7 percent) from three-point land. Freshman guard Tevon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./St. Frances Academy) added 15 points, all in the second half, as he was 5-of-9 from the field and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. Sophomore forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) rounded out the Spartans in double figures with 12 points and seven rebounds.
The Spartans came out and took an early lead at 13-11 behind the play of Locke and Cain. Locke scored seven points in the early going, including one of the two three-pointers for UNCG, while Cain added back-to-back baskets in the first couple possessions.
The Citadel responded with eight straight points on its way to an 18-4 run taking a 29-17 lead. The Bulldogs broke the game open from the outside, hitting four three-pointers during the stretch to take the double-digit lead. Van Scyoc opened the run with a three-pointer while Moore capped it with a long range shot while Warren Sledge hit back-to-back three-pointers in the long distance barrage.
The Spartans answered back with an 11-5 run to narrow the gap to 34-38. White started the spurt by scoring on a dunk off an assist form sophomore Jordan Potts (Columbus, Ohio/Northland), while junior Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) nailed the only other three-pointer of the game for UNCG.
The Spartans went into the locker room trailing 39-30 thanks in large part to The Citadel hitting 7-of-13 (53.8%) from long range compared to just 2-of-8 (25%) from UNCG. Additionally, the Spartans only out-scored the Bulldogs 10-8 in the paint and lost the first half rebounding battle by a 20-14 margin. Locke led UNCG with 10 first half points while Cain added eight points. Moore led the way for The Citadel with 13 points at the half.
The Citadel increased its lead to 48-34 just under three minutes into the second half as Van Scyoc started to heat up, scoring five straight points. The Spartans slowed the momentum with a quick 7-2 spurt as White scored five straight points and Potts nailed a mid-range jumper.
UNCG kept battling but could not get the big shot to keep its runs going. The Spartans last push came when White scored to trim the deficit to eight points at 59-51. UNCG got a stop on the defensive end and got a good look at a three-pointer, but Potts’ shot rolled off the rim in an omen for the night.
The Citadel closed out the game by being strong from the free throw line, hitting 24-of-33 (72.7%) from the charity stripe. Additionally, the Bulldogs held a 36-29 advantage on the glass, in large part to 29 on the defensive end.
The Spartans’ 14 victories are the most for UNCG since winning 19 games during the 2007-08 season. The Citadel has now won three straight games heading into the SoCon Quarterfinals and snapped a six-game winning streak for UNCG in the all-time series.
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