GREENSBORO, N.C. – Francis Alonso’s 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left in the first overtime period broke a 76-76 tie as UNCG outlasted Western Carolina 79-76 in Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday night.
UNCG improves to 23-5 overall and 12-3 in the Southern Conference while Western Carolina falls to 7-22 and 4-12.
Carlos Dotson led the Catamounts with 17 points. Marcus Thomas finished with 16 points, all of which came in the second half. Matt Halvorsen tallied 15 points with Kameron Gibson in double figures with 10 points. Thomas had a team-leading seven rebounds.
Alonso scored a game-high 28 points, 11 of which came at the free throw line. Isaiah Miller finished with 17 points. James Dickey posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Miller led the Spartans with six steals.
A Dotson layup opened the scoring at the 18:38 mark of the first half before the Spartans answered with an 11-0 run capped by a Massey free throw with 11:05 remaining. The Catamounts scored eight of the next 11 points as Josh Cottrell’s three-point play with just under 10 minutes to play brought the Catamounts within four, 14-10. The Spartans pushed their lead back to 10, 22-12 before the Catamounts tied the game at 22 thanks to a Gibson jumper at the 3:05 mark. UNCG closed the half on an 8-0 run to lead 30-22 at halftime.
After an Alonso layup extended the Spartan lead to 32-22, Western Carolina trimmed the deficit to five, 32-27, thanks to a Thomas 3-pointer. UNCG answered with five straight points to push its lead back to double-digits. Dotson made a layup with 14:30 to go as the Spartans were assessed a contact technical foul on the play. Although Dotson missed the free throw to complete the play, Halvorsen sank two free throws followed by a Thomas layup to bring the Catamounts within three, 41-38, with just over 14 minutes left in regulation. Halvorsen tied the game at 41 with a 3-pointer at 12:20 before a Miller dunk and three-point play on ensuring UNCG possessions gave the hosts a 46-41 lead.
A Dotson three-point play capped a 9-1 Catamount run as Western Carolina led 50-47 with 8:47 remaining in the second half. UNCG responded with eight straight points as Alonso made the first of two free throw attempts for a 55-50 lead. Halvorsen gave the Catamounts a 59-58 advantage with 3:27 to go as he was fouled on a made 3-point attempt and made the ensuing free throw. Thomas’s jumper at the 2:12 mark pushed the Catamount lead to 62-58. UNCG used a 7-0 run capped by a Miller layup with 23 seconds left to pull ahead 65-62. Thomas was fouled with 10 seconds left and made both of his free throws before Alonso made two free throws with five seconds left for a 67-64 UNCG lead. Halvorsen sent the game into overtime as his 3-pointer just inside the half-court line as time expired knotted the score at 67.
Demetrius Troy’s layup followed by an Alonso 3-pointer pushed the UNCG lead to 72-67 at the 3:12 mark of overtime. Trailing 74-69, the Catamounts used a pair of Dotson layups to pull within a point at the 1:24 mark. UNCG extended its lead to 76-73 with a pair of Miller free throws with 52 seconds left only to have the Catamounts tie the game at 76 on a Halvorsen 3-pointer at the 28-second mark. After a Spartan timeout, Alonso sank the game-winning shot with 4.3 seconds left before Miller blocked Halvorsen’s game-tying attempt on the ensuing WCU possession to secure the win.
The Spartans went 26-for-61 (42.6 percent) from the field, 6-for-25 (24.0 percent) from 3-point range and 21-for-33 (63.6 percent) at the free throw line. Western Carolina finished 27-for-63 (42.9 percent) from the field, 8-for-27 (29.6 percent) behind the arc and 14-for-19 (73.7 percent) at the free throw line. UNCG held a 43-35 edge in rebounds. The game featured five lead changes and eight ties.
Western Carolina returns to the Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center on Saturday, hosting VMI at 7:30 p.m. on Senior Night. Marc Gosselin along with two senior managers will be honored prior to tip-off.