ESTERO, Fla. – The UNCG men’s basketball team suffered its second straight loss at the Gulf Coast Showcase Tuesday as the Spartans dropped an 83-71 contest to San Diego at Germain Arena. The Spartans will conclude the Gulf Coast Showcase Wednesday as they battle Stetson in the seventh-place game at noon.
“We put ourselves in a hole early,” head coach Wes Miller said. “Coming off a bad loss yesterday, I thought we just didn’t come ready to play for the first time all season. I give our guys credit though as they regrouped, especially at halftime, but we didn’t have enough sustained stretches of good basketball to get us over the hump. We would play well enough to get back into the game but then have some breakdowns on the glass that really hurt us.”
The Spartans (3-3) connected on 48.1 percent (26-of-54) from the field and 31.8 percent (7-of-22) from long range. UNCG committed 13 turnovers in the loss, which led to 19 points by the Toreros. Also, the Spartans lost the free throw battle as they only attempted 16 from the line compared to 31 for San Diego.
Junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) led all scorers with 21 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Cain was 9-of-14 from the field and hit 2-of-3 free throws to lead the Spartans’ attack. Freshman guard Tevon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./St. Frances Academy) added 12 points, six of which came from the free throw line. Redshirt freshman center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) added 10 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes of play as he was 4-of-6 from the field.
San Diego (6-1) connected on 53.8 percent (28-of-52) from the field and just 28.6 percent (4-of-14) from long range. The Toreros had all five starters score in double figures with Duda Sanadze leading the way with 20 points and six rebounds. Christopher Anderson chipped in 16 points while Johnny Dee added 15 points in the balanced scoring attack.
San Diego jumped out to an early 13-2 lead just over four minutes into the game. Dee and Sanadze both hit three-pointers in the opening minutes to give the Toreros the early lead.
UNCG settled in and posted a 9-2 run to trim the deficit to 15-11 over the next two minutes. Cain got the Spartans going with a basket in the paint while freshman Tyrone Outlaw (Roxboro, N.C./Person County) came off the bench and scored five straight, including a three-pointer from the corner.
After San Diego extended its lead back to double figures, the Spartans posted a 16-7 run to pull within one at 28-27. Cain was the catalyst as he scored nine points in the run, including the first of back-to-back UNCG three-pointers that was capped by White hitting one at the top of the arc to force a USD timeout.
San Diego responded and closed the half on a 17-11 run to take a 45-38 lead into the locker room. The Toreros took advantage of some UNCG foul trouble that saw both Cain and Outlaw with three fouls while sophomore Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) was saddled with two fouls.
UNCG connected on 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from the field in the first half but committed seven turnovers, which led to 10 points for the Toreros. Cain led all scores with 13 points in just 12 minutes as he was 5-of-7 from the field, while White chipped in eight points and four rebounds off the bench. San Diego connected on 51.6 percent (16-of-31) from the field and also hit 10-of-13 (76.9%) from the free throw line in the half. Sanadze and Dennis Kramer led the Toreros with 10 points apiece in the first half.
The Spartans came out of the locker room and posted an 8-3 run to pull within two at 48-46. Cain scored on back-to-back possessions in the post to make it a one-possession game. UNCG could not get over the hump though as it remained at arms’ length against the Toreros.
The Spartans cut the lead to 61-58 with 9:31 left as junior Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) hit a three-pointer off a Cain offensive rebound. San Diego responded with a 14-6 run to extend the lead back to double figures at 75-67. Sanadze and Jito Kok led the final push for the Toreros as they each scored six points in the run. San Diego iced the game away from the charity stripe hitting 10 of its last 12 attempts in the final four minutes of play.
The Spartans, which had won the rebounding battle in the first four games of the season, lost it for the second straight game Tuesday as San Diego held a 31-27 edge on the glass. Sophomore guard Jordan Potts (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) added nine points off the bench as he continued his strong shooting from behind the arc. Potts is hot 11-of-14 from long range in the last three games, while hitting at least three in each contest.
The Spartans final contest in Florida is slated for Wednesday afternoon against Stetson at noon. The Hatters have dropped both games in the tournament, falling to Wagner and Southern Illinois.
- UNCG -