Braves record second straight road win
By Jonathan Bym
January 24, 2013
|Photo by Nikki Scott
|Freshman Brandon Winford goes up for a runner over a defender earlier this season. Winford was inserted into the starting lineup in December and has played a big role scoring and rebounding for the Braves. The 6-foot 7-inch freshman was third in the conference in rebounding as of Jan. 20.
A trio of Braves led a second half charge as the men's basketball team shrugged off a nine-point first half deficit to capture its second straight road win over Clayton State on Jan. 19.
With the win, the Black and Gold snapped a nine-game road losing streak at Clayton State and now have won back-to-back road games for their first road wins of the season.
UNCP's offense was led by the frontcourt pair of senior George Blakeney, who recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and freshman Brandon Winford's 15 point and eight rebound effort. Guard Quamain Rose chipped in 14 points as well as seven rebounds.
Clayton State ran out to an early 11-2 lead four minutes into the contest as the Lakers opened up, hitting five of their first six shots. UNCP cut the lead to two with an 8-1 run as four frontcourt players, Reggie Cobia, Ben Jacobs, Winford and Blakeney, recorded all the points during the spurt.
Clayton State retained its small lead as both teams traded out baskets for the remainder of the half.
Queens battled back, however, and was able to tie the game up at 56 in a little less than four minutes.
The Braves cut the lead to 38-37 with a Jihad Wright dunk in the waning seconds of the half to bring themselves the closest they had been since the 19:20 mark.
The dunk swung momentum into the Braves favor as the second half opened with a 12-4 run with all 12 points coming off baskets from Winford and Blakeney.
From there, the Black and Gold lead grew to 10 points at 55-45 with a little less than 15 minutes to play. The home-standing Lakers fought back and eventually cut the lead to three in a time span of two minutes.
That three-point margin proved to be the closest for the remainder of the game.
UNCP used a balanced scoring attack from its starters and bench to push the lead to the largest of the game at 13 with 3:49 to go.
Clayton State showed life late with an 8-0 run to cut the score to five with 12 seconds remaining.
A UNCP turnover in the following possession seemed to give the Lakers a chance to cut the score to just a few points, but a KJ Cooper steal and lay-up ended the hopes for a Clayton State comeback as the Black and Gold captured a 78-73 conference win.
Blakeney, Rose and Winford each scored nine points in the closing half to lead the Braves in the comeback.
UNCP received a big boost in the game by outrebounding the Lakers 43-27.
Both Blakeney and Winford, as of Jan. 21, were first and third in the PBC in total rebounds this season to lead the Braves on the glass.
UNCP also ranks second in the conference in rebounding and first in offensive rebounding. The Braves have had a positive rebounding margin in all of their conference matchups this season.
Could history repeat?
The midseason conference road trip has proven to be a gauge for how the Braves will do in postseason play over the past few seasons.
In 2011, the Black and Gold were able to snag a few quality wins on the road en route to an appearance in the, NCAA tournament. This year's team is 2-1 on the road in conference play.