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Swarm soar above College Park to earn fourth straight home win


Amari Bailey heads toward the basket in the paint.
In front of its third sell-out crowd of the season, the Greensboro Swarm, the NBA G League affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets, shot over 50 percent from the field to rise above the College Park Skyhawks (Atlanta Hawks affiliate) 115-102 on Saturday night (Feb. 24) at the Novant Health Fieldhouse. Nick Smith Jr. and R.J. Hunter combined for 46 points in the Swarm’s (9-12) fourth straight home victory.

Greensboro surged ahead of College Park (12-10) with an 8-0 run at the onset of the game, showcasing their offensive firepower early on. On assignment from the Hornets, Smith Jr. finished the quarter with an impressive 13 points and was a stellar 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc. The Swarm led by as many as 14 points in the first and concluded the period with a 29-20 lead.

Amari Bailey, who was held scoreless in the opening quarter, emerged as a driving force in the second. The Two-Way guard amassed 14 points in the period and ignited the home crowd with a scrappy loose ball recovery that resulted in a slam dunk by Jaylen Sims. College Park trimmed the Swarm’s lead to as little as seven points but as the halftime buzzer sounded Greensboro carried a 15-point advantage, 60-45, over the Skyhawks.

Coming out of the break, College Park ate into Greensboro’s lead behind forward Rob Baker. On back-to-back possessions, Baker drained two three-point baskets to cut the Skyhawks’ deficit to seven points. However, the opposition’s momentum was thwarted by big man Jeremiah Tilmon Jr., who threw down a slam off a Hunter assist to recapture a 15-point lead. Going into the final frame, Greensboro led 85-69.

In the fourth, College Park once again surmounted an offensive run that whittled the difference to seven points. During that stretch, the Skyhawks outscored the Swarm 14-5 and A.J. Griffin notched two three-point baskets. However, a big fourth quarter from Hunter kept the visitors at bay and propelled the Swarm to its fourth straight victory at home. Hunter had 13 points in the quarter, including three pivotal three-point buckets.

In total, six Swarm players finished the night in double digits. Smith Jr. set a new season high of 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field in 34 minutes played. Hunter finished with 21 points off the bench, his seventh game with 20-plus points. Bailey contributed 18 points and was an efficient 7-of-11 from the field. Tilmon Jr. capped off a 17-point performance with a three in the closing seconds and Nathan Mensah and Sims ended the night with 10 points apiece.

College Park also saw six players in double digits: Baker (25 points), Griffin (21 points), Seth Lundy (13 points), Jordan Bowden (11 points), Jarkel Joiner (11 points) and Vit Krejci (11 points).