Junior guard Diante Baldwin connected on a short jumper with 3.9 seconds to play, as UNC Greensboro overcame a six-point deficit in the final three minutes to post a thrilling 67-66 win over Furman in Southern Conference action on Tuesday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The win improved UNCG to 5-10 overall and 1-1 in the SoCon, snapping a five-game losing streak in the process. Furman falls to 7-8 overall and 1-1 in league play.
A pair of Stephen Croone free throws extended the Paladin lead to six points, at 66-60, with 3:08 left, setting the stage for seven-straight points to close out the game by the Spartans. UNCG would then see Baldwin score six of his 10 points down the stretch on a pair of foul shots and two jumpers, including the game-winner with 3.9 seconds to play, setting the stage for a frenetic finish and giving the Spartans a 67-66 lead.
Furman had one final chance to quell the late run by the Spartans, however, Croone's three from the top of the key hit the front iron as time expired, and the Paladins had suffered their first Southern Conference loss of the season.
Croone, who was the only Paladin in double figures with a game and season-high 27 points, posted 17 first-half points, including four first-half triples to stake him to his best shooting performance and offensive half of the season. The Paladins were tied, 39-39, at the half.
Trailing 27-20 late in the first half, Croone took over the game. posted 12-straight points to eventually prompt a UNCG timeout, as he made three three-pointers and had another three-point play the old-fashioned way to help the Paladins to a 32-29 lead during a 12-2 run, which gave the Paladins a brief 32-29 lead with 4:05 remaining in the half.
The half would close with be nip and tuck down the stretch, as the Spartans and Paladins would end up going to the locker room tied, 39-39 after a layup by senior Larry Wideman.
Croone finished the game with his season-high 27 points on 6-of-20 shooting from the field and 5-of-11 from three. He had his best performance of the season from the charity stripe going 10-of-12. Kris Acox and Devin Sibley were the next highest scorers for the Paladins, posting six points apiece, while Matt Rafferty added four points and four assists. Acox had a strong effort on the backboards with 10 rebounds.
The Spartans finished with four in double digits, led by a big night by RJ White, who finished the contest with 17 points for his sixth double-figure scoring game in his last seven. He also added 13 boards for his first double-double of the season.
White would be joined in double figures by Kayel Locke's 15 points, while Demetrius Troy came off the bench to have one of his best games as a Spartan, chipping in 12. Baldwin's 10 points rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Spartans in the contest.
The Spartans finished the game connected on 42% (21-of-50) from the field, including going 7-of-22 from three-point land, which converts to a 31.8% clip from long range.
The Paladins struggled shooting the ball from two-point range, and finished connecting on just 34.5% (20-of-58) from the field, while shooting a decent 40.7% (11of-27) from three-point land. The Paladins also turned in one of the better free throw performances of the season, posting a 71.4% clip on 15-of-21 from the line on the night.
Furman held a 34-30 edge on the glass, but were out-scored 20-14 in points in the paint. Furman turned it over 12 times in the game, while the Spartans finished with 12 miscues.
Furman returns to action to face league favorite and 2-0 Chattanooga on Saturday in a 12:30 p.m. game slated for Fox Sports Southeast, while the Spartans will be in Johnson City to battle East Tennessee State in a 4 p.m. tip at Freedom Hall.