Men’s Basketball Moves On To NCAAs After Tournament Loss


Redshirt Freshman Trenton McIntyre gets ready for a rebound as Redshirt Senior Spencer Levi jumps for a shot inside the paint to try and put Pembroke back in the lead at the end of the first half in the semifinal against Southern Wesleyan. PN Photo/ Zachery Young

Redshirt Junior Jordan Ratliffe looks for an opportunity on the Braves’ attack as Trenton McIntyre battles the Warriors’ defense to become an open option. PN Photo/ Zachery Young

By: Nicole Cook, Reporter

The UNCP Men’s Basketball team was crowned regular season champions and headed to Spartanburg, South Carolina for the Conference Carolinas Championship. Belmont Abbey broke the Braves winning streak in the Championship, but still qualify for the 2022 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship.

Recap: Pembroke @ Barton, Feb. 22 The Braves traveled to Wilson, NC. to take on the Bulldogs on their home court. UNCP won the game 103-75 which is a considerable improvement from when the Braves and Bulldogs last faced off in January and the Braves won by a mere 7 points. UNCP dominated the entire game and stayed in the lead from start to finish. The Braves began the half with an immediate layup from Spencer Levi and then continued to extend their lead. By the 10 minute mark, Pembroke was up by 18 points, 34-16. The Braves ended the half 56-38.

The second half had the Bulldogs coming out strong and scoring first off a steal and layup, UNCP’s offense was not phased and the Braves had a 22 point lead by the halfway point at 81-59. The Braves ended the game leading 103-75 with a 28 point difference. Tyrell Kirk had a career-high and the highest conference game-high in points scored by an individual at 41 points. Kirk also had the most assists while Deon Barrien and Trenton McIntyre tied the game-high of rebounds at nine. Pembroke’s free throw percentage was 71.4%, and their 3-pointer percentage was 45.8%.

North Greenville vs. Pembroke, Feb. 24
The Braves hosted the Crusaders at their home court here in Pembroke for senior night on Feb. 24. The game was not a close one with the Braves once again staying ahead the entire night and winning by 30 points at 101-71. The first half ended 53-28 with a dunk from Jakari Gallon a few minutes before the end of the half followed by another from Levi with less than a minute remaining.

The second half saw a lot of improvement from the Crusaders’ offense as they added 43 points to their score before the end of the game. Nevertheless, Pembroke’s offense did not let up and made any hope for a comeback from North Greenville impossible. At the 10 minute mark, the Braves were leading by 41 points, 81-40. The Braves broke 100 with a minute left in the half and ended senior night successfully. Kirk was the high scorer of the night with 26 points and a tied game-high in steals with Jordan Ratcliffe at 4. Levi had a game-high of 13 rebounds and McIntyre had the leading number of assists at eight. Pembroke made 78.6% of their free throws and 34.5% of their 3-pointers.

Having claimed this win, the Braves were crowned regular season champions and would compete in the Conference Carolina Championship as the first seed.

“I think it means a lot to the program any time you have the ability to cut down nets and see your guys on the ladder.” Head Coach Drew Richards said after the win. “To be able to have a great crowd on senior night and to be able to do what we did, it’s kind of a storybook ending to the regular season.” 

Semifinal Game:
Southern Wesleyan vs. Pembroke, Mar. 5
The Braves traveled to Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium in Spartanburg, South Carolina to compete in the Conference Carolinas’ Men’s Basketball Championship. As the leaders of the conference standings this year, UNCP was placed as first seed and pitted against the Warriors of Southern Wesleyan for the first round semifinals game. The game started at 12 p.m. on Saturday and began with a rocky first half for the Braves. The Warriors scored first off a 3-pointer in the first minute. Ratcliffe scored first for the Braves 3 minutes in with his own 3-pointer to make the score 5-3. However, the Warriors began dominating with Pembroke trailing behind by just a couple points a majority of the half. UNCP managed to take the lead at the 5 minute mark after a series of fouls from the Warriors at 23-21, however, Southern Wesleyan’s Arusha Hunter made two consecutive shots from the 3-point-line and put the Warriors back on track to win the half 36-25.

The second half saw the Braves struggle early on with foul trouble which included a technical and allowed the Warriors to further their lead 41-26 with 17 minutes remaining. By the 13 minute mark, the Warriors were up 50-35. However, from here the Braves would begin their comeback and score 27 points in the following 10 minutes to put them on top 62-59 with 3 minutes left on the clock. The Warriors came back with less than a couple minutes remaining at 66-65, but they gave up the lead to the Braves off of Kirk’s free throws with 13 seconds left on the clock. The Warriors got a shot off from beyond the arc in time for the win but missed, ending the game 67-66 for the Braves. Kirk was the Braves’ high-scorer of the night with 19 points and 3 assists. Levi had a game-high 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. Pembroke was 56% from the free-throw-line at 14-25.

Finals: Belmont Abbey vs. Pembroke, Mar. 6 UNCP stayed overnight in Spartanburg and took on the third seed Belmont Abbey at 1 p.m. Sunday for the Championship title. The Braves came out strong at the start of the first half with a dunk from Levi. Five minutes in, Pembroke was in the lead 11-7. However, the Braves went on a scoring drought for 4 minutes and allowed the Crusaders to pull ahead 14-13 with 11 minutes remaining. Belmont Abbey continued scoring to stay on top until the 5 minute mark when Nate Dunlop made two 3-pointers to put UNCP in the lead 32-27. The Braves were up 35-36 with a minute left in the half, but the Crusaders scored a jumper with 30 seconds remaining to end the half 37-36 with Belmont Abbey leading.

The Braves came out strong for the second half with Javonte Waverly scoring first off a 3-pointer 1 minute in. UNCP led the first part of the half up until the 13 minute mark when the Crusaders pulled ahead 50-48 off a 3-pointer. The Braves wouldn’t score again for another 3 minutes, allowing Belmont Abbey to further their lead 54-48. UNCP capitalized on a foul from the Crusaders at the 8 minute mark and pulled ahead off of Levi’s free throws, 59-58. The Brave’s defense put Belmont Abbey on a 3 minute scoring drought, but the Crusaders came back with 3 minutes remaining and finished out the game still leading at 79-73. Levi led the Braves on the scoreboard with 20 points, and two game-highs of 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. Kirk had a game-high 7 assists. Pembroke made 50% of their free throws at 11-22.

Despite falling short of the conference tournament championship title, UNCP Men’s Basketball still qualifies as the 4th seed for the NCAA Southeast Regional and will face off against 5th seed Flagler College in the quarterfinals this Saturday. 

After winning the regular season on senior night, Coach Richards said that even though he hopes his players enjoy their success together as much as possible, it was cool to see that his guys were already looking forward to the next part of their story.

“As soon as we get back, it’s time to get back to work because we’ve got a lot of unfinished business and a lot of people who are really doubting us, and I’m hoping we can use it as motivation to get better,” said Richardson. Pembroke fans will be able to see this same ideology play out and cheer them on against the Saints either in person at Christenberry Fieldhouse in Augusta, Georgia on Saturday, or online through the NCAA DII official website. The kickoff time is still yet to be determined.

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