Junior guard Matt Frierson became just the seventh Citadel men's basketball player in program history to convert 200 career 3-pointers, but his five treys Thursday night were not enough as the Bulldogs fell 82-66 to a stingy UNCG defense at McAlister Field House in Southern Conference action.
"I give all the credit to UNCG," said head coach Duggar Baucom. "They're very good defensively and they really got out and guarded us and pushed us off the line. We missed some open shots, but most of the credit has to go to them and how well they guarded."
Thursday's game pitted a top-10 defense against a top-10 offense as UNCG (21-6, 12-2 SoCon) entered Thursday's game sixth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 62.5 points per game, while The Citadel (9-17, 4-10 SoCon) entered the week eighth in NCAA Division I in scoring offense, averaging 85.5 points per contest. The Spartans' defense proved to be the difference in the game as The Citadel was held to under 70 points for just the third time this season.
The Bulldogs were able to control the early going, easing out to a 3-0 lead off Kaelon Harris' 3-pointer just 1:17 into the game, and The Citadel was able to lead UNCG for the first 10 minutes of action, but UNCG's full-court press eventually allowed the Spartans to take the lead with 7:47 left in the first half.
The Citadel trailed by just seven, 37-30 at the intermission, and despite UNCG stretching the lead out to double digits twice in the early going of the second half, the Bulldogs were able to hang around with the Spartans early.
With 16:22 to play, Zane Najdawi hit a 3-pointer off an assist by Leandro Allende and nearly two minutes later, Najdawi tipped an in-bound pass to a waiting Harris under the basket, pulling the 'Dogs to within four, 45-41 of the Spartans.
But a 12-0 run by UNCG over the next three minutes took the wind out of The Citadel's sails, and with 2:58 left to play, the UNCG lead was 25, 81-56.
The Citadel shot 35% (21-of-60) from the field for the game, including hitting 13 of 37 attempts from 3-point range (35.1%). In comparison, the Spartans shot 47% (31-of-66) from the field for the game, but out-scored the Bulldogs 34-16 in the paint and 19-4 off turnovers.
Najdawi and Frierson each scored 15 points with Frierson's coming off the game-high five 3-pointers. Thursday marked the eighth time this season that Frierson has converted at least five treys in a game as he stretched his current streak of consecutive games with at least one trey out to 32. With his 15 points against the Spartans, Najdawi has now scored 1,099 career points, placing him 25th in program history.
Harris ended the night with 11 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes of work.
The Spartans were led by Marvin Smith's 18 points, including four treys, while James Dickey finished with a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards.
-per The Citadel Athletics