UNCP Men’s Basketball Falls In Opening Round Of NCAA Tourney

UNCP Men’s Basketball Falls In Opening Round Of NCAA Tourney

CHARLOTTE – The third-seeded and 24th-ranked UNC Pembroke men's basketball team battled back from an early double-digit deficit to take the lead minutes out of the halftime gates, but second-seeded Limestone shot better than 61 percent from the perimeter, including a 9-for-13 clip in the second half, to fuel a 100-85 upset of the Braves in the opening game of the 2017 NCAA Southeast Regional on Saturday.
 
The setback snapped a 10-game win streak for the Braves (24-8) who still had plenty to celebrate after taking home a share of the Peach Belt Conference regular season title, as well as their first-ever PBC Tournament championship this season. The Black & Gold finishes with 24 victories – the fourth-most wins in program history – and its third 20-plus win season under head coach Ben Miller.
 
Conference Carolinas regular season and tournament champion Limestone (27-5) advances to Sunday's semifinal round where they will take on second-seeded and fourth-ranked Lincoln Memorial who was a 118-86 victor against Pfeiffer in Saturday's second game.
 
Nigel Grant scored 23 points to lead the Braves who managed just a 39 percent shooting effort in the opening half and were out-rebounded for the first time in seven games. Senior Alex Bradley closed out his UNCP career with 19 points, while freshman Akia Pruitt fueled a 15-point outing with an 11-for-12 clip from the charity stripe.
 
All-Carolinas Conference performers Shaun Stewart (37 points) and Shaq Dance (31) combined to score 68 points for the Saints, while Kenny Hairston came off the bench to add 19.
 
The Braves opened the second half with five-straight points to forge a 47-43 advantage with 18:59 to play, but Dance's 3-pointer 41 seconds later sparked the Saints on a 26-7 run that proved to be the difference in the outcome. The Braves trailed by as much as 17 points on Dance's layup with 7-1/2 minutes left, but eventually whittled their deficit down to nine points, 94-85, on Alex Bradley's triple with 51 ticks left.
 
Limestone led by as many as 14 points in the first half following a pair of free throws from Kenny Hairston at the 7:49, but two free throws by Pruitt on the other end of the court signaled an 18-3 run for the Black & Gold that eventually gave it a 38-37 advantage with 2:26 left before intermission.