PEMBROKE – The UNCP men's basketball team limited their turnovers and continued to out-rebound their competition again on Wednesday while five double-figure scorers provided the fuel for a 78-65 nonconference victory over Allen at the English E. Jones Center in Pembroke.
The Braves (7-2, 1-1 PBC) won the rebounding battle by a 43-33 advantage and used that to hold a 34-26 margin on points in the paint, with 18 of those points coming on fast break layups (14 in the second half). The Braves also finished with a hearty 20-to-13 assist-to-turnover ratio on the night, their best output of the season since their season-opening win over Johnson & Wales (N.C.) on Nov. 14.
UNCP jumped out to a 14-point advantage with as little as 3:20 remaining in the first half before the Yellow Jackets (5-7) mounted a 14-1 run to close out the first half and trim the Braves' lead to 31-30 at halftime.
"Give them credit. They're a feisty team with a lot of weapons. They've played a very difficult schedule so far," said UNCP head coach Ben Miller of his team's opposition. "They're very well coached, they execute and they have a lot of guys that can shoot the ball."
The two teams battled out to a 42-42 tie through the first 7:38 of the second stanza, but the Braves would start to put the game out of reach down the stretch with a 36-23 run to close out the game, giving UNCP the 78-65 victory.
"It was good to get back to playing hard in the second half. I think they outworked us in the first half and even though the first part of the second I think they were still out-hustling us, but I think we kind of got our energy and effort back from halftime on," added Miller. "We have a fairly balanced team and we have an unselfish team. We have a lot of guys that can create and make plays on their own, but we also have a great team in terms of working together and they can play a lot of different positions. They enjoy playing together."
Leading the way for UNCP was junior Nathan Priest, who finished 5-of-7 from the floor and 4-of-7 from the free throw line in notching 14 points and a team-leading eight rebounds on the night in only 18 minutes. Priest was limited in practice all week and returned to add three assists, two blocks and one steal in the win.
Senior Chris Hargrove, junior Marcus Heath and sophomore K.J. Cooper each finished with 12 points of their own on a combined 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) and a combined 4-of-8 from long range.
Sophomore Shahmel Brackett rounded out the UNCP scorers in double figures with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor before leaving in the second half with a lower leg injury.
The Yellow Jackets were led by senior guard Demetrice Terrell who finished 7-of-20 from the floor and 5-of-12 from the 3-point line in registering a game-high 22 points in 36 minutes of action. Richard Johnson was the only other member of the squad in double figures after he recorded 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor in 33 minutes of action.
The Braves will close out their action for 2010 on Saturday when they host 2009-2010 NCAA tournament participant Anderson (S.C.) at 3 p.m. at the English E. Jones Center in Pembroke.