Braves Reach Century Mark, Sting Allen
PEMBROKE – Home-standing UNCP shot a season-best 50 percent from the field and used double-figure scoring nights from five different players to snap a two-game skid with a 107-70 victory over visiting Allen on Saturday evening in the English E. Jones Center.
Marcus Heath scored 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, while George Blakeney registered his fifth career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Braves (3-3) who grabbed their first home victory since a season-opening triumph over St. Andrews. Newcomer Ben Jacobs scored 15 points, K.J. Cooper added 13 and Nathan Priest booked 10 points on the night for the hosts as well. Mike Robinson chipped in six points and a game- and career-high 14 rebounds.
Richard Johnson poured in a game-best 29 points for the NAIA-based Yellowjackets (3-8) who have now dropped five-straight games – all to NCAA Division II foes. Jeremy Crawford scored 14 points, Kristofer Riggs tallied 14 and Brandon Farmer added 10 for Allen as well.
The offensive output helped the Braves reach the century mark on the scoreboard for the first time since a 110-107 triple overtime victory over Flagler in early February. UNCP finished +29 in the rebounding column on Saturday - its most lopsided rebounding victory since out-doing Johnson & Wales by the same margin in the 2010-11 season opener.
"I think our guys came back from the break and played pretty well," said UNCP head coach Ben Miller. "We did some good things tonight. We rebounded the ball a little better tonight and we took care of the ball in the second half. In a game like tonight, guys tend to get carried away a little bit and we did a few possessions but we were fairly unselfish throughout."
The Braves quickly turned a 27-point halftime margin into a 34-point lead, 73-39, just less than seven minutes into the second stanza. Allen cut its deficit back to 27 points, 87-60, on a 3-pointer by Johnson at the 7:42 mark, but the Braves countered with a 14-1 run over the next four minutes to push the lead out to a game-high 40 points, 101-61.
UNCP scored 14 of the game's first 16 points to grab a 14-2 lead just less than four minutes into the game and had stretched its lead out to 20 points, 28-8, by the 9:00 mark in the first half. Priest hit the front end of a two-shot trip to the free throw line to give the hosts a 55-24 lead with 82 seconds left before the intermission, but Farmer scored the final four points of the period to minimize the damage heading into the locker rooms.
UNCP will be back in action again on Tuesday when the Braves match up again with Fayetteville State (1-2), this time in a home contest inside the English E. Jones Center. Tip off for the second half of the women's and men's doubleheader against FSU has been slated for 7:30 p.m.