PEMBROKE – Jason Lee hit a pair of free throws with 5:54 to play to give visiting Fayetteville State a 56-51 lead, but a short jumper by Alex Bradley sparked the No. 19 University of North Carolina at Pembroke men’s basketball team on a game-ending 16-0 run to lift the Braves past the Broncos, 67-56, on Tuesday evening at Lumbee Guaranty Bank Court.
It was the fifth straight victory for the Braves (5-1) who improved to 28-19 all-time against Fayetteville State with its seventh-straight series victory. The setback snapped a three-game win streak for the Broncos (3-3) who have not tasted victory in Pembroke since a 100-92 win over the Braves in the 2009-10 season opener.
Bradley, a native of Fayetteville, keyed a season-best 18-point performance with an 8-for-8 showing at the free throw line to pace the hosts who also got a dozen points from Brandon Watts and 10 more from Quamain Rose. Jihad Wright tallied eight boards, three assists and a trio of steals for UNCP as well.
Michael Thomas turned in a game-best 21 points on 10-of-19 shooting for Fayetteville State, while Joshua Dawson chipped in 10 assists despite just 2-of-11 shooting from the floor.
Rose’s 3-pointer just more than 5 1/2 minutes into the second half helped the Braves stake claim to a 47-40 advantage, but Fayetteville State erupted on a 16-4 run over the next 8-plus minutes that was capped on Lee’s free throws with just less than six minutes remaining. Bradley made it a one-possession game two minutes later, and then hit two free throws – the first of eight-straight made shots from the line over a three-minute stretch – to give the hosts the lead for good.
The Braves had forged a double-digit lead, 17-7, by the 12-minute mark in the first half, but the Broncos grabbed all of the momentum over the next five minutes and took their first lead of the game, 23-22, on a pair of free throws by Dawson at the 7:39 mark in the opening period. However, UNCP closed out the half with an 11-1 run to take a 42-29 lead into the locker rooms.
UNCP will hit the road again on Tuesday when they make the short trip up U.S. 74 to battle region rival Wingate (3-1) inside Cuddy Arena. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.