Down by as much as 11 with under six minutes to play, the UNCP men’s basketball team mounted a late comeback that fell short as the Braves lost 71-68 to regional rival Wingate.
It was the first loss of the season for UNCP (2-1). The Braves have now lost three straight contests at Cuddy Arena.
Akia Pruitt narrowly missed a double-double with 18 points and eight rebounds for the Black and Gold. Nigel Grant added 14 points and four rebounds.
The Braves struggled with fouls throughout the night, finishing with 23 in comparison to 15 for Wingate. The issue was especially prevalent in the first half when UNCP was tagged with 11 fouls while the hosts picked up just four.
Neico Robinson led the Bulldogs (2-1) with 18 points. Wingate finished with an impressive 25-of-30 clip from the free throw line.
After the Bulldogs took a 61-50 lead late in the game, UNCP went on a 14-4 run to pull within a point of tying the contest. A layup by Wingate’s Kerigan Farley gave the hosts a three-point advantage with 35 seconds left on the clock. David Strother responded by knocking down a pair of free throws to close UNCP’s deficit to one again.
Farley proved to be the difference maker for Wingate in the closing seconds, making a free throw before wrestling an inbounds pass away from UNCP’s Brandon Watts. Farley called a timeout after securing the loose ball. Emario Logan made the game’s final point on a free throw seconds later.
Led by the efforts of Robinson, Wingate’s bench outscored UNCP’s reserves 34-12. The Braves were more successful than the hosts in the paint, where they held a 40-26 advantage.