ETSU 79, UNCG 74
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The ETSU Buccaneers are dancing after a 79-74 win over UNCG in the Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale. It is the seventh SoCon tournament win for the Bucs.
UNCG led for a majority of the first 26 minutes of the contest. It was 50-48 when David Burrell ignited an 18-4 run with a 3-pointer with 13:53 to play. Two Jermaine Long free throws with 7:39 remaining made it a 12-point lead for the Bucs, 66-54.
It was still a 10-point advantage as the clock ticked with a minute and a half to go. R.J. White drained a 3 from right in front of his bench to provide a spark. Francis Alonso hit another to make it a four-point game, 75-71, with 40 seconds left.
T.J. Cromer, who scored 14 of his 23 in the second-half comeback, made two free throws after a quick foul by the Spartans. UNCG got off three triples on the ensuing possession with Jordy Kuiper finally making it a three-point game with 12 seconds left.
Diante Baldwin got the steal as the Bucs attempted to in-bound the ball. He found Alonso, whose 3-point attempt was just off the mark. A.J. Merriweather sealed it with a strong rebound and two free throws for the 79-74 final margin.
The Spartans’ Alonso led all scorers with 28 tonight, followed by R.J. White’s 23. Cromer led ETSU with 23 points with Merriweather adding 13, while Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Tevin Glass each added 12.
The Bucs now await Selection Sunday on March 12. It is the 10th time in ETSU’s history it’s advanced to the NCAA tournament and the first since 2010.
ETSU (27-7) | UNCG (25-9)
UNCG: 63 of the Spartans’ 74 points came from the trio of Alonso (28), White (23) and Baldwin (12).
ETSU: Made all 19 free throws attempted ... both teams attempted 19 for the game, with UNCG making (15).
UNCG: 1-2 in the title game ... last win was in 2001.
ETSU: 7-3 all-time in the championship contest ... last title came in 2004 ... David Burrell tied the tourney record for blocks in a game with six.
ETSU leads the series 15-11 ... 1-2 in 2016-17 ... First SoCon tourney meeting.
Desonta Bradford, ETSU
T.J. Cromer, ETSU
Diante Baldwin, UNCG
R.J. White, UNCG
Christen Cunningham, Samford
Devin Sibley, Furman
Francis Alonso, UNCG
James Dickey, UNCG
Wyatt Walker, Samford
Fletcher Magee, Wofford
Most Outstanding Player
T.J. Cromer, ETSU
Pinnacle Award (highest GPA on championship-winning team)
Isaac Banks, ETSU