No. 1 UNCG 56, No. 5 Woffford 55
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Top seed UNCG prevailed 56-55 over fifth-seeded Wofford in Sunday's first semifinal game at the Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship presented by General Shale at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The contest went down to the final second. Fletcher Magee led all scorers with 14 points for the Terriers, while Storm Murphy added 13. Francis Alonso and Demetrius Troy paced the Spartans with 13 apiece.
Jordy Kuiper gave UNCG its largest lead of seven, 49-42, with 5:32 to play. The Terriers scored the next seven points to knot the score at 49-all on two Derrick Brooks free throws with 4:07 left.
Alonso answered the quick spurt with a layup, but Magee had a reply on the ensuing possession to keep it tied, 51-51. The Terriers took to the free-throw line after James Dickey put the Spartans back ahead 53-51.
Two Trevor Stumpe free tosses were followed by a clutch defensive stop, the first in three minutes. Murphy stole the ball from Alonso and the Terriers were on the break. Cameron Jackson was fouled and hit two free throws with 1:24 to go.
Another stop for Wofford on a Marvin Smith missed 3-pointer led the Terriers to work the ball on the offensive end. They worked it a little too deep in the clock as Jackson's jumper was short and a shot clock violation sent the Spartans on the offensive with 38.9 on the clock.
Alonso took over. Magee had him covered when Alonso took a step back and drained a 3 with 19.2 ticks remaining. The Terriers had a wild finish for the raucous assembly. Magee's attempt from the left wing was off the mark, but he scooped it up, dribbled left to the baseline and hoisted it again.
In the scramble for the rebound, Jackson got the ball to Murphy. He dribbled a step right, set and fired a 3 that came off the rim as time expired.
The Spartans survive and advance to the championship game Monday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. They await the winner of No. 2 ETSU and No. 3 Furman, who are playing in Sunday's second semifinal.
ON THE RECORD
The Spartans are now 4-3 in the semifinals. They return to the championship game, which ended in a loss to ETSU a year ago. UNCG is the last school not named Chattanooga, Davidson, ETSU or Wofford to win the crown, as it beat the Mocs in 2001, 67-66.
The Terriers drop to 4-3 in the league semifinals with six of the seven coming in the last nine years with four titles (2010, 2011, 2014 & 2015).
3 stats to know ...
- The two squads combined to shoot 35.5 percent (39-for-110) from the field and 15-of-54 (27.8 percent) from 3-point range.
- Magee (43.8 percent) and Alonso (41.4 percent) entered the game as two of the most lethal 3-point shooters in the conference. Both were limited to 30 percent, each making 3-for-10.
- The Spartans made the most of their second chances, scoring 21 points on 12 offensive boards.
No. 2 ETSU 63, No. 3 Furman 52
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – No. 2 seed ETSU captured a 63-52 victory over No. 3 Furman in Sunday's second semifinal matchup of the Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship presented by General Shale at the U.S. Cellular Center. The Bucs built a large lead and kept the Paladins at bay on the defensive end.
Desonta Bradford led ETSU with 20 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Mladen Armus added 10 points and 12 rebounds. Jordan Lyons led the Paladins with 17.
The Bucs were cruising along up 23, 50-27, with 11:20 on the clock. The Paladins began to whittle away at the lead. Three Lyons free throws and a Daniel Fowler 3-pointer cut it 17, 50-33. Bradford answered before Lyons and Matt Rafferty baskets got the score to 15, 52-37.
Every time it appeared the Paladins would make a run, the Bucs either hit a shot or Furman couldn't get a key shot to fall. The closest the Bucs allowed it to get was the 11-point final on a Fowler layup with 17 seconds left.
The win sets up a rematch of last year's title tilt between the Bucs and UNCG on Monday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. The winner claims the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, announced on Sunday, March 11, on TBS at 6 p.m.
ON THE RECORD
The Bucs enter their 11th title game, which is second only to Chattanooga (18) among current league members. Davidson holds the record with 19 with a much-longer shelf life in the conference. ETSU is 11-5 all-time in semifinals matchups.
The Paladins are now 10-16 in the tourney semifinals. Their 26 semis appearances are the most among the current SoCon membership. The Wildcats also hold that record with 33.
3 stats to know ...
- The Paladins were limited to 31.7 percent (19-for-60) shooting from the field, including 15.4 percent (4-for-26) from 3-point range. Both are season lows.
- Furman was +1 in turnover margin (12/13) but ETSU held 15-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
- The Bucs were +14 in the paint Sunday night (40-26) ...102 of their 140 points in the tourney have come in the paint (72.9 percent).