UNC-Greensboro Men’s basketball team got its season off to a good start when it defeated Greensboro College 86-69 at the Fleming Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
In the season opener for the Spartans, the team took advantage of a heavy blue and gold crowd at Fleming Gym. The crowd of 1,211 fans helped energize the Spartans team’s early season victory.
The Spartans never trailed in the game, although Greensboro College did keep it interesting throughout the first half.
The Pride kept the game within 10 points for the first half and even tied with UNCG for a small portion of the game. The Spartans proved to be too much for the Pride to handle though, as they lead this game for 39 minutes and 14 seconds of the 40-minute game.
The Greensboro Pride came out energized and ready to play against the crosstown rival. The team came into the game as a heavy underdog as the Division III school was set to play against a Division I school. But, early on in the contest, the team didn’t play like an underdog. The Pride kept things tight, and really forced the Spartans to play a tougher game than anticipated.
The early goings of the game were played very tight. Neither team was able to create much separation at all, and the teams went into halftime with the Spartans holding onto an eight point lead.
The Spartans were able to build on their first half lead and ultimately extend it to the final 17-point margin at the end of the second half. UNCG’s tough defense was a key factor in this, as it held the Pride to a scoring drought that lasted over three minutes in the second half.
Clay Byrd was the leading scorer for the game, racking up 17 points. Byrd was five for nine from three-point land against the Pride. He also tallied six rebounds and two assists. Byrd played the game with intensity and helped provide a spark that the Spartans really needed. Byrd had several hustle plays, which electrified his bench and Fleming Gym, throughout this game.
UNCG looked solid defensively against the Pride, as the Spartans forced 15 turnovers and also racked up seven steals. Throughout the game, the Spartans did an excellent job applying pressure the Pride’s offense.
The Spartans’ junior guard Diante Baldwin put together a good game individually as well. While scoring 15 points, he also racked up a game-high five assists for the Spartans. Baldwin shot 60 percent from the field and tallied a game-high four steals. Baldwin saw a ton of time on the floor, as he played a team-high 33 minutes for the Spartans.
The Pride’s Simeon Howard, who was named USA South Player of the Year last year, was held in check by UNCG. He shot just 18 percent from the field and had a game-high three turnovers.
It wasn’t all easy for the Spartans, as UNCG did struggle some in the first half. Greensboro College played with high intensity in the first half and really challenged UNCG to step up. As the game wore on, however, the Spartans found a new gear and never let up as they extended their lead to double digits in the second half. From that point on, the Spartans never looked back.
Sophomore forward Marvin Smith helped lead the Spartans as well. He finished the game with 15 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Smith also did a great job of drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. Smith finished the night attempting a game-high 11 free throws, and he made nine of them.
Trevin Miller of Greensboro college lead the way in scoring for the Pride; he finished the night with 13 points. He also shot 50 percent from the field, which was a team-high as well.
UNCG will look to use this win to build on as the Spartans move along throughout the season. The Spartans will look to carry the success from the season opener when they travel to Orlando, Florida to take on the Knights of the University of Central Florida.
The next time the Spartans will be at home is Friday, Nov. 27. They will be taking on the Midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy.
The matchup with Navy is part of a tournament that is taking place here at UNCG called the Spartan Showcase.
The Spartans will follow that game with two more at home against the IPFW Mastodons on Nov. 28 and the Jacksonville University Dolphins on Nov. 29.