ASHEVILLE, N.C. – UNCG won its first Southern Conference title since 2001 with a 62-47 triumph over ETSU Monday night in the U.S. Cellular Center. The Spartans avenged their loss to the Bucs in last year’s title game of the Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship presented by General Shale.
Demetrius Troy and Jordy Kuiper led UNCG with 13 points apiece. Jalan McCloud paced the Bucs with 15 points and eight rebounds.
ETSU held a slim 28-27 advantage with 18:16 to go on a Mladen Armus free throw. UNCG scored 10 straight before McCloud made the Bucs’ first basket after intermission at the 12:04 mark. He went coast-to-coast after a defensive stop to make it a five-point game, 37-32.
The Spartans methodically put it away from there. The lead stayed in the six- to nine-point range over the next five minutes. McCloud’s layup with 6:16 left cut it to six once again, 45-39.
UNCG clamped down on the defensive end, allowing just two field goals the rest of the way. James Dickey’s layup was followed by a Kuiper jumped to get the lead to double figures, 51-40, at 4:40. It got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
Troy hit the exclamation point with a 3-pointer with 1:37 to go. Marvin Smith scored the final point at the free throw line at 1:15.
The Spartans claim the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament announced on Sunday, March 11, on TBS at 6 p.m. UNCG is the first outright regular-season champion to follow with a tournament title since Chattanooga in 2016, also defeating ETSU.
ON THE RECORD
3 notes to know …
- 12th rematch in tourney finals in the long history of this event … previous champion is 5-7 … ETSU is 2-2 in those instances.
- UNCG is the first school other than Chattanooga, Davidson, ETSU or Wofford to win the tournament since 2001 … that was the Spartans’ last SoCon Championship.
- ETSU is the first school to play in three consecutive championship games since Davidson (2006-08).
3 stats to know …
- The Spartans’ defensive prowess was on full display, as they allowed just 47 points … it was the fewest in the title tilt since 1986, when Davidson topped Chattanooga 42-40, the first season with a shot clock (45 seconds).
- ETSU shot 30.6 percent from the field … 30.4 percent (35-for-115) in the two losses to UNCG this year. UNCG held the Bucs to a season low in FG made (15) and their second-worst efforts in FG percentage (30.6 percent), 3-pointers made (3) and 3-point percentage (18.8).
- There were nine ties and six lead changes, but none in the final 16:22.
Most Outstanding Player
Francis Alonso, UNCG
Pinnacle Award (highest GPA on championship-winning team)
Justin Jordan, UNCG
All-Tournament First Team
Desonta Bradford, ETSU
Jalan McCloud, ETSU
Francis Alonso, UNCG
Demetrius Troy, UNCG
Makinde London, Chattanooga
All-Tournament Second Team
Zane Najdawi, The Citadel
Jordan Lyons, Furman
James Dickey, UNCG
Nathan Hoover, Wofford
Cameron Jackson, Wofford