No. 1 UNCG 72, No. 8 The Citadel 58
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The top-seeded UNCG Spartans got past No. 8 The Citadel 72-58 in the first quarterfinal contest of the Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale on Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Center. Demetrius Troy led five in double figures with 14 for the Spartans, while Zane Najdawi scored a game-high 17 for the Bulldogs.
UNCG took control early in the second half. The league leader in scoring defense during the regular season, it was an extended defensive effort that turned the tide for the regular-season champs.
The Citadel had an early 36-32 lead with the ball in the second half. A 3-point miss, offensive board and another long-range misfire was a harbinger. The Spartans held the Bulldogs scoreless for nearly nine minutes to flip the score. Troy’s layup at 16:01 gave his squad the lead for good in the midst of a 12-0 run.
Najdawi ended the drought with 9:49 left in the game, but the Bulldogs could not claw their way back. The 44-38 tally at that point was as close as it would get the rest of the way.
James Dickey added 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals for UNCG. Leandor Allende netted 12 to the Bulldogs ledger.
UNCG now awaits the winner of No. 4 Mercer and No. 5 Wofford, who are playing in the second quarterfinal matchup Friday. The Spartans and that winner will square off at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon in the semifinals.
ON THE RECORD
The Citadel: 11-21
Tied the program record of 25 wins with last year’s squad that reached the SoCon Championship game, falling to ETSU … It’s the Spartans’ sixth season with 20 or more wins.
The Bulldogs made 11 3-pointers, marking the 25th time in 32 games they’ve reached double digits, but were limited to 28.2 percent on 39 attempts … It was the ninth time The Citadel was held below 30-percent shooting from long range.
3 stats to know …
- UNCG has limited opponents to 63.3 points per game this season … 12th time holding opponent to less than 60 … held the Bulldogs more than 25 below their 83.3 season average.
- Najdawi tied his career high for 3-pointers made with four … he and Frankie Johnson combined to shoot 50 percent from long range (6-for-12), while the rest of the team went 5-for-27 (18.5 percent).
- The Spartans turned up the heat on defense in the second half but backed it up offensively with a 55.2 percent (16-for-29) effort from the field.
No. 5 Wofford 73, No. 4 Mercer 53
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The fifth-seeded Wofford Terriers cruised past No. 4 Mercer 73-53 in the second quarterfinal game of the Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale on Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Center. The duo of Nathan Hoover and Cameron Jackson combined for 40 points to lead the Terriers.
Hoover had a game-high 22 points, with Jackson adding 18 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and three steals. Jordan Strawberry paced the Bears with 18. Stephon Jelks tallied 16 points and 10 boards, as Desmond Ringer chipped in 11 points and nine boards.
The Terriers led from their first possession. The margin reached 20, 43-23, on a Hoover 3-pointer with 18:24 left. The Bears made a run. Strawberry capped a 16-5 spurt with a 3 with 12:16 left. Fletcher Magee answered 20 seconds later and the Terriers never looked back.
This sets up Sunday’s first semifinal game. The Terriers and top seed UNCG meet at 4 p.m., on ESPN3. The second half of the bracket is decided Saturday night between ETSU-Chattanooga and Furman-Western Carolina.
ON THE RECORD
The Bears are now 2-4 in the SoCon Championship since joining the league in 2014-15 and 1-3 in the quarterfinals.
Nine points for Fletcher Magee snapped a 76-game double-digit point streak dating back to the junior’s first year … it was the second-longest active streak in the nation behind Campbell’s Chris Clemons (79).
3 stats to know …
- Wofford’s +13 turnover margin provided a 20-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
- There were just three second-chance points, all on the Bears’ ledger, with only seven total offensive boards (Mercer 5/Wofford 2).
- The Bears were limited to 38.6 percent (17-for-44) shooting including 26.1 percent (6-for-23).