GAME NOTES: In the final matchup of the first round of the 2014 Southern Conference Tournament, the sixth-seeded UNC Greensboro Spartans face off against the No. 11 seed, The Citadel Bulldogs at U.S. Cellular Center.
The Citadel have endured a miserable season, with a record of just 6-25 overall and 2-14 in league play. However, after losing 17 straight games, the Bulldogs earned victories over Samford (81-71) and Georgia Southern (80-63) in their last two games of the regular season, giving them a bit of momentum coming into this Tournament.
UNCG won two of its final three games of the regular season, including triumphs over Chattanooga and Wofford, who are the second and third seeds in this event, respectively. However, the Spartans weren't as strong for the majority of the campaign, finishing 14-17 overall and 7-9 in conference.
It wasn't an easy victory, but UNCG toppled The Citadel (69-65) in the only meeting between the two teams this season. The Spartans have won each of the last six matchups with the Bulldogs, and lead the all-time series, 17-7. The winner this time around gets a crack at Wofford in Saturday's second round.
Matt Van Scyoc scored 19 points and Marshall Harris II had a double-double consisting of 11 points and 12 rebounds, as The Citadel earned a rare 80-63 victory over Georgia Southern in the regular-season finale. The Bulldogs sank 54.4 percent of their shots from the floor and drained 10 3-pointers in the win.
The Citadel hasn't been nearly as effective on offense most nights, ranking next-to-last in the SoCon in scoring (66.9 ppg) while shooting a shade under 43 percent from the floor. Despite the lack of scoring strength, the Bulldogs are lucky enough to have three double-digit scorers on the roster. Van Scyoc (14.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is the primary option, as well as one of the team's top rebounders. Ashton Moore (13.4 ppg, 3.6 apg) fills in as the second option, but shoots just 38.8 percent from the floor. Brian White (11.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg) leads on the glass and finishes on 53.8 percent of his total shots.
Although they failed to score in the final 3:38 against Wofford, the Spartans managed to hold on for a 73-71 victory. Kayel Locke tallied 17 points to lead four players in double figures for the Spartans, who shot a scorching 78.3 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes to rally from a 15-point deficit.
Locke's production against Wofford was desperately needed as leading scorer Kyle Cain (15.3 ppg, 9 rpg) did not have his strongest game, finishing with 10 points on just 5-of-13 shooting. Cain did keep up his solid work on the glass in collecting a team-high eight rebounds, helping the Spartans to a 30-23 advantage on the boards. Tevon Saddler (12.4 ppg) and Locke (11.5 ppg) fill in the gaps behind Cain, with Locke doing more than that against Wofford. Saddler also stepped up his game in the win, tallying 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting to go with three assists.
The Citadel may have won its last two game of the regular season, but both of those came at home against two of the weaker teams in the conference. Although UNCG is far from the league's elite, it should be able to advance.
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