GREENSBORO, North Carolina – Junior guard Francis Alonso keyed a big spurt to open the second half and UNC Greensboro trimmed UNCW, 71-58, in a non-conference basketball game Wednesday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Spartans of the Southern Conference improved to 7-3 with their third straight win and snapped a two-game losing streak to the Seahawks. UNCW dipped to 2-6 after suffering its fifth consecutive loss.
UNCG remained perfect at home with a 6-0 mark this season, including an unblemished 4-0 scorecard at the coliseum. UNCW is still seeking its first win away from home after six tries.
Alonso, from Malaga Spain, scored 14 of his team-high 19 points in the second period and finished 6-of-11 from the floor and 5-of-8 from long distance. Senior forward Marvin Smith added 15 points and freshman guard Isaiah Miller chipped in 10 off the bench for the Spartans.
Junior forward Devontae Cacok turned in another eye-popping game for the Seahawks, collecting his sixth double-double of the season behind 22 points and 17 rebounds. Redshirt sophomore guard Ty Taylorposted his first career double-double with 16 points and 10 boards.
“I was pleased with the defensive effort tonight,” said UNCW first-year head coach C.B. McGrath. “Alonso made a few three’s off screens and when he gets going, he’s tough to stop. If we don’t turn the ball over, though, and get better shots, who knows…”
In the seventh game of the series and only the second matchup between the state rivals at the coliseum, the Spartans never led in the first half before finally breaking through in the first five minutes of the final period.
Senior forward Jordy Kuiper opened the second-half scoring to give UNCG its first lead of the game, 34-33, and Alonso drained three triples in a decisive 16-4 spurt for the Spartans to start the final period.
UNCG extended the advantage to 11 points, 52-41, on a Miller jumper near the right elbow, but the Seahawks closed the gap to seven points on back-to-back buckets by Taylor and Cacok. A Cacok slam – his fourth of the night – sliced the deficit to 52-45 at the 8:53 mark.
Smith, however, answered with a triple, two free throws and a dunk to get the Spartans back on track and UNCG later enjoyed its largest lead of the game, 69-56, when the stocky Kuiper connected on a jumper with 1:47 on the clock.
The Seahawks led nearly all the way in the first period and survived a late drought to forge out front, 33-32, at the break.
UNCW converted four of its first eight field goal attempts to build an early nine-point advantage. Cacok swished a jumper from the right elbow to give the Seahawks a 16-7 margin at 12:40 and McGrath’s club still led, 30-22, with just under six minutes left when Cacok dropped in a pair of free throws.
UNCG then clamped down on the Seahawks defensively to pull within striking distance at intermission. UNCW closed out the half without a field goal over the last 3:02 and misfired on 13 of its last 14 attempts in the period.
Miller, meanwhile, sparked the Spartans in the final four minutes of the first half to help UNCG draw even at 32-all with 2:02 remaining before Taylor’s free throw with 27.1 seconds left provided the Seahawks with a 33-32 edge at the break.
UNCW was held to season-lows of 58 points and 32.8 percent shooting, but limited the Spartans to 37.9 percent from the floor m– the lowest for an opponent this season.
The Seahawks return home briefly to entertain another SoCon opponent, Furman, on Sunday in a 2 p.m. tip at Trask Coliseum. UNCG travels to Raleigh on Saturday to challenge N.C. State in a Noon contest.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks outrebounded the Spartans, 46-41…Senior guard Jordon Talley led the Seahawks with three assists…The double-doubles by Cacok and Taylor marked the fourth time the Seahawks have featured two double-doubles in a game…Cacok wound up with five dunks on the night and hiked his career total to 113 over three seasons…The Seahawks shot 31.4 percent in the first half and 34.6 percent in the final period…Cacok fouled out for the third time this season…UNCG’s reserves outscored their UNCW counterparts, 21-4…The Spartans outscored the Seahawks in the second half, 39-25…UNCW pulled down 16 offensive rebounds…The Seahawks went 4-for-14 from deep and 14-of-22 at the charity stripe.
REMINDER: The UNCW men’s basketball program is offering a free clinic for kids following Sunday’s home game vs. Furman. It is open to boys and girls from kindergarten through sixth grade and will be conducted by UNCW’s coaching staff and players after the conclusion of the game and last 45 minutes. Participants will be given posters, have an opportunity to obtain autographs and win prizes. No registration is necessary, but participants are required to complete a waiver form. For more information, contact Matt Lynch at email@example.com or 910-962-3045.