ESTERO, Fla. – The UNCG men’s basketball team wrapped up play in the inaugural Gulf Coast Showcase Wednesday afternoon with a 75-68 victory over Stetson at Germain Arena in the consolation bracket. The Spartans were able to clinch the victory at the free throw line, hitting 80 percent on the day, including 92.9 percent (13-of-14) in the second half.
“Today’s win was good for our guys,” head coach Wes Miller said. “It is good because it was like a conference game where we had to grind out a back and forth game. All we talked about in the locker room before hand is we have to fight together and we showed that fight today. We were able to come together as a team and make plays down the stretch to secure the victory.”
Junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) once again led the way with his second double-double of the season, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, both game-highs. Cain connected on 9-of-16 from the field to reach 21 points for the second straight day. Junior Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) added 11 point on the strength of three three-pointers in the victory.
Freshman Tyrone Outlaw (Roxboro, N.C./Person County) played a pivotal role in the victory, especially down the stretch, as he finished with 10 points, including going 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Classmate Tevon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./St. Frances Academy) rounded out the four Spartans in double figures scoring with 10 points off the bench as he was 6-of-8 from the free throw line.
UNCG finished the game shooting 47.1 percent (24-of-51) from the field and 46.7 percent (7-of-15) from distance in the victory. The Spartans also got back to winning the rebounding battle, holding a 33-29 advantage on the glass. Stetson connected on 41.5 percent (22-of-53) from the field and 35.7 percent (5-of-14) from long range in the loss as Raymone Andrews led the team with 16 points and Willie Green added 15 points.
Stetson jumped out to an early 14-5 lead just under five minutes into the game. The Hatters hit a pair of early three-pointers as Green and Kentwan Smith hit from distance. Andrews dished out five assists on the Hatters’ first six field goals of the game.
UNCG regrouped and posted an 8-1 run to trim the deficit to 15-13. Paulos started the comeback with a three-pointer on the wing while redshirt freshman center R.J. White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) scored on a post move. Outlaw pulled the Spartans within two as he drove baseline for a layup.
After Stetson extended the lead back to six at 23-17, senior Drew Parker (Houston, Texas/La Porte) quickly tied the game with back-to-back three-pointers. The teams went back and forth until Paulos blocked a shot on one end of the floor and scored on a fast break basket on the other end to give UNCG a 27-25 lead.
The Spartans took a 36-34 lead into the locker room after Outlaw hit two free throws on a Stetson technical foul. UNCG connected on 43.3 percent (13-of-30) from the field and hit 7-of-11 (63.6%) from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes. Cain led all scorers with 10 points while Parker and Saddler each chipped in six points.
Stetson connected on 40.7 percent (11-of-27) from the field and hit 9-of-10 (90%) from the charity stripe. The Hatters had seven different players score either four or five points in the first half in the balanced scoring attack.
The Hatters posted an early 7-2 run in the second half to take a 45-40 lead. The Spartans responded with a 7-2 run of their own to tie the game at 47-47. Sophomore guard Jordan Potts (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) hit a three-pointer and Cain scored in the post to tie the game.
UNCG looked to get some breathing room at 56-52 when Paulos hit two straight from distance and Potts hit another three-pointer to force Stetson into a timeout. The Hatters responded with seven straight points to retake the lead at 59-56 as Greene scored four points and Andrews added a three-pointer.
The Spartans finally took the lead back for good with a 9-2 run to take a 65-61 advantage. Cain scored baskets on each end of the run while Outlaw converted an old-fashioned three-point play out of a timeout to give the Spartans the lead back that they would never relinquish.
Stetson tried to make a run, trimming the lead down to two at 65-63 before Saddler came up with a steal on one end, which led to another three-point play by Outlaw. After the Hatters again narrowed the gap to two at 70-68, Potts was fouled on a drive and calmly hit a pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game with 38 seconds left at 72-68. UNCG came up with a defensive stop once again as Saddler picked up a steal and was quickly fouled before hitting both at the charity stripe to ice the victory away
Potts finished the game with nine points and five assists off the bench as he played 24 minutes. He was 2-of-2 from distance in the victory, raising his season numbers to 12-of-16 (75%) for the sophomore who started his freshman year hitting just one of his first 20 from long range.
The Spartans return to action Tuesday night as they return to the Greensboro Coliseum hosting Presbyterian. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
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