Game 7 - No. 1 UNCG 77, No. 5 Wofford 73
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – No. 1 seed UNCG earned a hard-fought 77-73 win over No. 5 Wofford in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Basketball Championships presented by General Shale on Sunday. That propels the Spartans into their first championship game since 2005.
UNCG threatened to run away from the Terriers in the second half, but Wofford kept clawing back. The Spartans led by seven and nine at different points in the second frame, but the drama came with less than two minutes to play.
Two Fletcher Magee free throws made it a one-point contest, 71-70, at the 1:54 mark but the score stayed there only for two possessions.
R.J. White’s dunk just inside a minute remaining made it a three-point game. A second straight Wofford turnover led to Diante Baldwin stretching the lead to four, 74-70, hitting one of two from the line. Another empty possession sent the Spartans back to the line with Francis Alonso making both with 13 ticks to go.
Magee’s 3-pointer inside 10 seconds cut the lead in half. But after missing his first free throw, Baldwin made the second for the final margin.
Magee and Baldwin shared game-high honors with 22 apiece. Alonso (17) and Marvin Smith (13) also reached double figures for UNCG, while Cameron Jackson had 17 points, five rebounds and four blocks in support of Magee.
The Spartans meet the winner of the nightcap as No. 7 Samford tackles No. 3 ETSU. The title tilt Monday is at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
UNCG (25-8) | Wofford (16-17)
UNCG: +10 (36/26) on the boards with as many defensive rebounds (26) as Wofford had total … 16-3 when winning battle on the glass.
Wofford: 1-for-5 shooting in the final three and a half minutes with three turnovers.
UNCG: It’s the third SoCon Championship title game for the Spartans … 1-1 in previous two, defeating Chattanooga in 2001 and losing to the Mocs in 2005.
Wofford: Just the second loss in the six SoCon Championship semifinal appearances for the Terriers … won last four before Sunday.
UNCG trails 13-25 all-time in the series with Wofford … 2-1 in 2016-17 … Four points separated the two teams over three matchups ... 2-4 in the SoCon tournament meetings.
Game 8 - No. 3 ETSU 81, No. 7 Samford 72
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – ETSU rolled into the semifinals of the Southern Conference Basketball Championship presented by General Shale with an 81-72 win over Samford. That propels the Bucs back into the championship game after losing a year ago to Chattanooga.
It was the T.J. Cromer show for ETSU. The senior guard tied the tournament record for 3-pointers made with nine en route to a career-high 41 points. He was 9-for-11 from long range and 11-of-18 overall.
The Bucs led from start to finish. The biggest advantage was 23, 53-30, on a Cromer 3-pointer. Despite trailing by double figures from the 12:21 mark of the first half, Samford did not give up.
The Bulldogs chipped away at the lead, cutting it to 10, 76-66, with 2:21 to go on a Wyatt Walker layup. They got the stop they needed but missed a layup and 3-pointer on the ensuing possession with a chance to get it to single digits. ETSU made five of six free throws down the stretch to stave off any serious threat.
Cromer’s 41-point night overshadowed Christen Cunningham’s 30-point effort for the Bulldogs. Alex Thompson and Walker added 14 apiece. Desonta Bradford chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Bucs.
The Bucs and UNCG meet Monday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
ETSU (26-7) | Samford (19-15)
ETSU: Cromer hit 11-for-18 (61.1 percent) from the field, 9-for-12 (75.0 percent) from 3-point range and 10-for-11 (90.9 percent) from the free-throw line … rest of the team combined for 11-for-34 (32.4 percent) on field goals, 4-for-11 (36.4 percent) on 3-pointers and 14-for-20 (70.0 percent) on free throws.
Samford: Struggled shooting on the night, making 40.6 percent (26-for-64) from the floor, including 30.0 percent (6-for-20) from 3-point range.
ETSU: 10-5 all-time in the SoCon semifinals … playing for their 10th NCAA tournament bid Monday, seventh out of the SoCon.
Samford: Just the second semis appearance for the Bulldogs in nine years in the league … the first was in their inaugural SoCon campaign in 2009 losing to Chattanooga.
ETSU leads the series 9-1 … 3-0 in 2016-17, winning in overtime at Samford and by two at home … First SoCon tourney meeting.