CLINTON, S.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball team suffered a stunning, last-second loss Tuesday night as J.C. Younger of Presbyterian hit an off-balanced jumper at the buzzer sending the Spartans to a 74-72 loss at the Templeton Center. The loss was the second-straight for the Spartans and their third loss of the season on the road heading into Saturday’s game at Liberty.
“We have to get tougher and have to learn how to dig in better, but we have great guys and we will get it figured out,” head coach Wes Miller said. “We built a good lead but then we stopped competing at the same level. Give credit to Presbyterian for battling back and hitting a shot at the end to get the victory. Our guys are not happy right now but we will get back to work to get better.”
The Spartans (4-3) held a 15-point first half lead but Presbyterian rallied to make it a game in the first half and the teams went back-and-forth the entire second half. UNCG finished the night shooting 48.3 percent (25-of-58) from the field and 43.5 percent (10-of-23) from distance in the loss but allowed the Blue Hose to shoot 54.7 percent (29-of-53) from the field and hit 10 3-pointers.
Sophomore forward James Dickey (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) led the way in the loss, scoring a career-high 18 points while grabbing 13 rebounds. Dickey connected on 9-of-11 from the field in his double-double in 34 minutes. Junior guard Francis Alonso (Malaga, Spain/Cushing Academy) added 16 points while classmate Demetrius Troy (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) and finished with 15 points Tuesday.
Presbyterian (3-5) had three players score in double figures in the win. Reggie Dillard led the way with 22 points as he was 7-of-9 from the field, 4-of-6 from 3-point land and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. Armel Tete added 12 points and six rebounds while Davon Bell finished with 10 points and eight assists.
The Spartans started quickly, opening to a 12-4 lead as Dickey scored six early in the paint and Alonso added six from 3-point land. UNCG ran its lead to 28-13 at the 7:58 mark, forcing Presbyterian into a timeout as Alonso and Dickey each had eight points in the early going. Freshman guard Isaiah Miller (Covington, Ga./Newton) scored four points off the bench to spark the Spartans but then foul trouble started to become an issue.
Presbyterian went on a 16-0 run to take a 29-28 lead as the Spartans committed nine fouls in the run, getting into foul trouble up and down the lineup. Dillard scored nine points during the run while Tete added five. The Spartans overcame the run and went into the locker room with a 36-34 lead as Troy scored the last eight points for UNCG in the half.
The Spartans came out of the halftime break and posted a 7-2 run to force an early Blue Hose timeout with a 43-36 lead. Troy started the run with a 3-pointer while Dickey reached his double-double in the early going of the second half. Presbyterian answered back with nine straight points to take the lead and extend it to 55-51 with 11:14 remaining.
The Spartans responded and retook the lead at 66-64 with 4:32 left in the game as Alonso hit three free throws. UNCG would run its lead to five at 72-67 with 1:19 left in the game as sophomore Kyrin Galloway (Milton, Ga./Milton) nailed a 3-pointer.
Bell scored on the ensuing possession and Alonso’s 3-point attempt rimmed out to keep it a 3-point game. Ethan Kay hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 72-72 with 36.8 seconds remaining. The Spartans had a chance to take the lead in their last possession but a jumper from Marvin Smith (Richmond, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) was off the mark giving the Blue Hose a chance for the game-winning shot with 8.1 seconds remaining.
The Spartans had fouls to give and took three of them to wind time off the clock, setting Presbyterian with a side out of bounds play with 1.2 seconds remaining. The Blue Hose got the ball into Younger on the run and he hit a off-balanced jumper at the buzzer to send Presbyterian to victory.
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