CHARLESTON, S.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team won its fifth-straight game and posted its 10th win in its last 11 games Thursday night as the Spartans picked up an 82-66 road win against The Citadel at McAlister Field House. The Spartans continue their three-game road swing Saturday afternoon as they travel to Macon, Ga., for a meeting with Mercer at 4 p.m.
The win improves the Spartans to 21-6 overall and 12-2 in Southern Conference play, pulling UNCG within one game of first place ETSU. The 21 victories are fourth-most in a single season in UNCG history and the 12 league wins are tied for third-most in a single season. The victory also clinches a first round bye for the Spartans in the upcoming SoCon Tournament.
The game pitted the nation’s eighth-ranked scoring defense in UNCG against the nation’s ninth-ranked scoring offense in The Citadel. The Spartans won that battle for the second time this year, holding The Citadel to just 66 points, 19 below its season average and the third-lowest scoring output of the year for the Bulldogs. UNCG has limited The Citadel to two out of its three lowest scoring games of the year, allowing 58 earlier this season in the victory at home.
The Spartans’ defense limited The Citadel to just 35 percent (21-of-60) shooting from the field and 35.1 percent (13-of-37) from 3-point land. UNCG held the Bulldogs to 6-of-30 shooting from 3-point land (20%) over the final 35 minutes of the game. The Spartans forced 14 turnovers and turned those miscues in 19 points, as UNCG was able to convert in the open court.
Four different Spartans scored in double figures and nine players scored five or more in the win. Senior forward Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) led the way with 18 points, including 11 in the first 5:30 of the game. Smith connected on 4-of-10 from 3-point land in 24 minutes of play. Freshman guard Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds, notched four steals and handed out three assists in 21 minutes off the bench. Miller connected on 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-5 from the free throw line.
Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) posted his fourth double-double of the year and third in the last five games. Dickey posted 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as he helped the Spartans winning the battle on the glass by a 47-32 margin. Sophomore forward Kyrin Galloway (Milton, Ga./Milton) added 12points and six rebounds off the bench, helping the Spartans out-scored The Citadel 34-16 in the paint.
UNCG finished the game shooting 47 percent (31-of-66) from the field and 33.3 percent (9-of-27) from 3-point land. The Spartans also connected on 78.6 percent (11-of-14) from the free throw line and dished out 15 assists as a team.
The Citadel (9-17, 4-10 SoCon) started quickly, opening to a 16-12 lead five minutes into the game. The Bulldogs hit five out of their first seven 3-point shots on the night, forcing the Spartans into an early timeout. UNCG started the settle in and recorded a 17-5 run, taking a 34-26 lead with 1:07 remaining. The Spartans changed the game on the defensive end, holding the Bulldogs to 1-of-12 (8.3%) shooting and forced five turnovers on a 9:11 stretch of the first half. The Spartans did most of their damage in the paint as Dickey and Miller scored four each while senior Garrett Collins (Asheville, N.C./Fishburne Military Academy) scored five in the stretch.
The second half saw Dickey scored the first four points, giving UNCG a 41-30 lead early on. The Bulldogs responded and pulled within four at 45-41 with 14:51 remaining. Matt Frierson and Zane Najdawi both hit 3-pointers in a 10-2 run for The Citadel.
The Spartans had an answer though, posting a 17-2 run taking control of the game with a 62-43 lead with 10:25 remaining. Galloway scored the first four points of the run before junior Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) hit from distance. The Spartans got two more 3-pointers in the run as Smith and freshman Kylia Sykes (Washington, D.C./St. John’s College) each nailed a long range shot.
UNCG held the generous lead for the final 10 minutes, leading by as many as 25-points at 8-156 with 2:58 remaining. Najdawi and Frierson paced The Citadel with 15 points each but combined to shoot 6-of-20 from the field in the loss.
-- UNCG --