Pope, North Georgia sink UNCP from 3-point range
By Brad Crawford
Assistant Sports Editor
The word, “hot” doesn’t even describe the shooting display North Georgia forward Nick Pope forced on UNCP Feb. 16 at the English E. Jones Center.
As if his 24-point outburst against the Braves in a 77-75 overtime win on Jan. 12 wasn’t enough, the phrase, “on fire” is more like it.
The 6-foot-5 senior drained 7-of-10 3-pointers, including four consecutive at one point, as the Saints picked up a 72-60 Peach Belt Conference victory on “Think Pink Day” at UNCP.
After torching the Braves earlier this season in Dahlonega, Ga., Pope was continuously left open by the Black and Gold defense in the first half, hitting five 3-pointers and scoring 15 points. He finished with 23 points to lead North Georgia (14-9, 9-7 PBC) while point guard Jakirra Millsap dished out a game-high 11 assists as the Saints picked up their seventh win in their last nine games.
North Georgia shot 52.4 percent from the floor while also shooting 59.1 percent from behind the arc. UNCP finished the game shooting 48.8 percent from the floor on 21-43 shooting but only shot 33.3 percent on 3-pointers.
The Saints finished with 13 made 3-pointers compared to just three by the Black and Gold.
The Black and Gold (7-16, 2-14 PBC) has lost five games in a row since Jarrell Hunter’s game-winner against Clayton State on Feb. 2, falling to 6-7 at home this season.
“Our inability to stop dribble penetration has been our Achilles heel since we got back from winter break,” said UNCP head coach Jason Tinsley. “The biggest thing to stop dribble penetration is getting in front of the ball, gritting your teeth, getting in front of them and taking the charge,” Tinsley said.
“Basketball is kind of like football, the way the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl was by getting pressure on the ball and keeping containment. We’ve got something to do against it, but it looked like we hadn’t practiced it a day in our lives,” Tinsley said.
Black and Gold point guard Demarcus Lyday scored a season-high 17 points, but the Braves never recovered from a 33-26 halftime deficit. Cortez Brown and Jonathan Hart added 10 and 12 points, respectively.
North Georgia out-rebounded UNCP 26-24, a statistic coach Tinsley says the Braves need to work on.
“Demarcus Lyday did a good job of not turning the ball over and creating his own shots and Brandon Thomas played a good game,” Tinsley said. “Thank goodness the last two games that Jarrell has rebounded the ball because nobody else has.
Jonathan Hart, the biggest and most athletic guy on the floor for us, has been giving us nothing on the glass,” he said.