This Saturday, the UNCG Basketball team hosted The Citadel Bulldogs in the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans, fresh off of a exhilarating come from behind victory against Mercer University just 48 hours prior, look to extend their five game winning streak and improve upon their conference leading 6-1 record in league play. UNCG basketball has a lot to look up to this season, as they have matched the win total from the year’s previous and have their best start since the 1994-95 season, when that squad set the school record in wins under Head Coach Mike Dement with 23.
The Spartans look to continue to ride the hot hands of Francis Alonzo (Tied career high with 26 points against Mercer Thursday) and Diante Baldwin, the latter of which hit the go ahead 3 pointer with 4.1 seconds remaining Thursday night. The Citadel look to gain footing in the Southern Conference and try to climb out of the league cellar with a 2-6 conference and a 9-12 overall record. The Bulldogs hope to have NCAA leading points per game (95.6) show up on Saturday and not their NCAA leading points allowed per game (98.8) on display.
It seemed like the latter would take place for The Citadel, as the Spartans grinded out an 8-1 run over a span of 4 minutes. After the Bulldogs went on their own 13-6 run to tie things up at 14-14, the game would teeter back and forth at a slow pace until The Citadel’s Matt Frierson hit a 3-pointer that would give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 26-23 with 2:45 remaining in the first half. UNCG would atone for their shooting woes for most of the half by closing on a 9-3 run to take 32-29 lead running into the locker room. In that sequence, junior Garrett Collins hits a 3-pointer and freshman Kyrin Galloway had his second dunk of the game giving the Spartans the lead. Senior Diante Baldwin lead UNCG into the intermission by running end to end, hitting a reverse layup at the buzzer.
The second half however, saw The Citadel running on all cylinders, as they came out of the break with a 15-6 run to take a 44-38 lead. It should be noted at this point that UNCG lead for 17:38 of the game while at the conclusion of the run, the Bulldogs only led for 3:25. The Spartans were playing from behind for most of the second half, in almost a similar fashion as in their win Thursday night against Mercer. They were tasked with chipping away at a steady lead that The Citadel had built up, and UNCG finally broke through, posting up a 13-2 run to take a 67-61 lead with 7:04 remaining in the game. Baldwin had 5 points and two boards during the surge, with junior Marvin Smith getting three the hard way on a fast break to have the Spartans take the lead.
The three pointers started flying for UNCG, as they were vital to keeping their advantage over The Citadel at three possessions. The Bulldogs were able to cut the lead to four points with under two minutes remaining, but it was the offensive rebounding for the Spartans that sealed the game at 81-72.
While it was a rough day at the office for the team in terms of shooting, (41.5% from the field, 25.9 from 3) it was their rebounding and defense that lead UNCG to their second six game winning streak of the campaign along with a completion of the season sweep against The Citadel, as they dominated the rebounding game 51-24 with 21 offensive rebounds. Diante Baldwin lead the Spartans in scoring with 19 along with 8 assists while Sophomore Demetrius Troy chipped in 13 points and 5 assists off the bench.
The Spartans (16-5) will take their conference leading 7-1 record and six game winning streak on the road Wednesday against Wofford, returning back to the Coliseum on Saturday to face Furman.