UNC Greensboro shot 62 percent from the field in the second half and held The Citadel without a bucket for nearly 11 minutes of action in a convincing 79-63 victory at McAlister Field House on Saturday, which dropped the Bulldogs into last place in the league after their sixth straight defeat.
The Spartans (8-17, 4-8 SoCon) — who were down to just seven healthy scholarship players and were 0-14 when trailing at the half this season — outscored the Bulldogs (8-15, 3-9), 43-26, in the second half and committed just two turnovers in the frame while limiting The Citadel to a season-worst 22 percent shooting.
Diante Baldwin scored 17 points and dished out eight assists, while RJ White contributed 15 points (7-10) and eight rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench. Swingman Nick Paulos canned all four of his three-pointers, as UNCG shot 9-of-19 from downtown as a team.
“They’ve got a really nice inside-outside punch, but it comes down to them shooting 56 percent and us shooting 32 percent,” said Bulldog head coach Chuck Driesell. “The shots that we made against them at their place didn’t fall today.”
The Citadel received a season-high 32 points from Ashton Moore — his third career 30-point game — on a career-best 15 of 16 at the line, but no other Bulldog scored in double figures. The home squad kept the contest close by hitting 80 percent (24 of 30) at the stripe and committing only five turnovers but made just six shots from the field after halftime.
“We’re keeping the glass half-full,” Driesell said. “They’re working their butts off, and we’ve just got to look to our seniors to help the team stay positive and keep these guys feeling good about themselves.”
P.J. Horgan’s layup with 16:30 to play gave The Citadel a 45-41 lead, but the Bulldogs missed their next nine shots as UNCG posted a 21-5 run in seizing a 62-50 lead with 7:14 left.
Kayel Locke’s and-1 layup increased the Spartans’ lead to 67-53 with 5:43 to play, accounting for his 1,000th career point.
Moore’s trey with 5:04 left broke the field goal drought to close the Bulldogs within 67-58, but Baldwin followed with a transition and-1 of his own on the next possession and found Paulos for an open 3-pointer one possession later with 3:24 left for a 73-58 cushion.
UNCG had a 24-16 lead at the 8:36 mark of the first half, but the Spartans’ foul trouble played right into the hands of the SoCon’s best free throw shooting unit.
The Bulldogs hit 12 of 14 at the line over the final 9:39 of the half, including a personal 10-of-10 clip from Moore. His steal and sprinting layup tied the contest at 33 with 2:06 left in the half.
By virtue of Saturday’s performance, The Citadel is shooting 75.7 percent at the line for the season, tied for 11th best in the NCAA.
“Were going to need to continue to shoot well at the line,” Driesell said. “It will be a deciding factor when we have close games in the future.”
Horgan accounted for the Bulldogs’ final four points of the half, including a putback layup with six seconds left for a 37-36 halftime lead.
The Citadel visits Samford on Thursday with an 8 p.m. tip scheduled at the Pete Hanna Center in Birmingham, Ala.
“We’re going to work a lot on fundamentals these next several days — shooting shots, making shots, ball handling — and then go down there with a great attitude and work really hard to win.”
Bulldogs fans donated non-perishable items as part of the SoCon Hoops Against Hunger initiative. In partnership with the Brad Daugherty Foundation, the organization brings together the basketball community along with public, private, and sports organizations to help provide meals for students who may not have enough to eat at home during the extended holiday breaks from school.
Jake Wright hit his 50th 3-pointer of the season, tied for the sixth most by a freshman in Citadel history.
Ashton Moore has scored 1,287 points in his career, 11th most in Citadel history.
The “Lace ’Em Up Again” Citadel Alumni Game was held after the game, with the alumni team led by Demetrius Nelson defeating the current cadet team, 68-29.