By Rob Daniels
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Furman Paladins shot 63 percent from the floor in the second half Monday and pulled away from an eight-point halftime lead to an 81-68 win over UNCG at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Spartans (0-7, 0-2 Southern Conference) endured a six-minute scoreless stretch spanning halftime and couldn't cut into the resulting deficit appreciably. Brandon Evans led UNCG with 16 points and Kyle Randall had 11.
Coach Mike Dement, whose team returns to action with a game at Maryland on Wednesday, said he was encouraged by the start to Monday's contest. The Spartans owned a 24-21 lead on Brian Cole's stick-back with 3:04 left in the first half before running into trouble.
"We need to focus on what we did well in that (first) stretch and go on to the next game," he said. "The second half was just like the other games. We don't need to learn from that. We know that all too well. We need to learn from those first 16 minutes."
Jordan Miller scored 26 points and Noah States added 20 for Furman (5-2, 2-0).
UNCG put together a strong offensive second half of its own, responding to a 50-36 deficit by going 9-for-12 from the floor at one stage, but the Paladins didn't wilt. In jumping out to the comfortable lead, which they secured by outscoring the Spartans 18-0 in the decisive period, they compelled UNCG to scramble defensively. Furman often beat the Spartans' traps before they materialized, and that facilitated a 5-for-7 shooting stretch from the 3-point line.
"We were really reacting to their defense of the ball screen," Furman coach Jeff Jackson said. "They were trapping a bit up top. We have a shooter in Noah States, and we can fade him in or out. Our guys did a pretty good job of making the extra pass, and that will get you wide-open 3-pointers, also."
Furman scored on seven straight possessions and 11 of 12 to fend off the Spartans' hopes of a comeback.
"They did a good job of recognizing traps, but it's on us as well," Randall said. "Good on their part, but bad on ours."
Randall's assertive second half helped UNCG shoot 48.5 percent from the floor after the break, and his ability to create off the dribble should benefit center Aloysius Henry on most nights. On this one, Henry got in early foul trouble and was limited to 21 minutes of action.
"We don't really have a problem scoring," Evans said. "Scoring doesn't mean much if you're not getting stops."
The Spartans began the night by gumming up the Paladins' offensive flow with hands in passing lanes and help and recovery off screens. UNCG's early turnovers weren't of great concern; the defensive improvement was welcomed.
Defensive communication has been Dement's chief point of emphasis for a young team facing one of the nation's most challenging schedules.
"We played probably our smartest and wisest 16 and a half minutes of the year," the coach said. "And that's the way we have to play. And then we made some really young mistakes. Threw the ball to them. Fouled a 3-point shooter on the break. We had done a lot of good things to that point.
"We went in (to halftime) down eight and then came back and we weren't ready."
UNCG doesn't get much of a break. Having already played Florida State and Virginia Tech, the Spartans must now get ready for the Terrapins.
"In the last couple of games, we've tried to get off to a better start," Randall said. "This game was a step in the right direction. We just have to learn to sustain it."
Furman 81, UNCG 68
FURMAN (5-2, 2-0 SoCon)
MILLER, Jordan 6-10 11-12 26; STATES, Noah 6-10 4-4 20; SEBIRUMBI, Brandon 3-3 5-6 11; REDDICK, Colin 4-6 1-2 9; EVANS, Darryl 3-9 0-0 7; SAAKA, Amu 2-6 0-0 4; REDDICK, Charlie 1-2 0-0 3; BROWN, Richard 0-1 1-3 1; TOLER, Chris 0-0 0-0 0; AUSTIN, Bobby 0-2 0-0 0; DUVAL, Neil 0-0 0-0 0; DEHM, Justin 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 25-52 22-27 81.
UNCG (0-7, 0-2 SoCon)
EVANS, Brandon 5-9 3-3 16; RANDALL, Kyle 3-9 5-7 11; COLE, Brian 5-9 0-0 10; HENRY, Aloysius 5-8 0-0 10; BRACKETT, Aaron 4-8 0-2 8; WILLIAMS, David 2-4 2-2 6; PARKER, Drew 0-3 4-4 4; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 1-9 0-0 3; DAVIS, Brandon 0-0 0-0 0; SELLERS, Darrius 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-59 14-18 68.
Furman........................ 32 49 - 81
UNCG.......................... 24 44 - 68
3-point goals--Furman 9-17 (STATES, Noah 4-6; MILLER, Jordan 3-4; REDDICK, Charlie 1-1; EVANS, Darryl 1-2; DEHM, Justin 0-3; SAAKA, Amu 0-1), UNCG 4-11 (EVANS, Brandon 3-5; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 1-3; COLE, Brian 0-2; RANDALL, Kyle 0-1). Fouled out--Furman-None, UNCG-WILLIAMS, David. Rebounds--Furman 31 (MILLER, Jordan 6), UNCG 34 (HENRY, Aloysius 7). Assists--Furman 14 (EVANS, Darryl 6), UNCG 9 (RANDALL, Kyle 3). Total fouls--Furman 18, UNCG 24. Technical fouls--Furman-None, UNCG-None. A-2895
- UNCG -