Comeback Bid Falls Short For Men's Basketball At Samford 02-22-2013


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The UNCG men's basketball team rallied from an 18-point second half deficit to pull within one point with under a minute left, but the Spartans could not complete the comeback falling 75-71 to Southern Conference foe Samford Saturday night at the Pete Hanna Center.

"I am proud of our guys because we fought and battled tonight on the road," head coach Wes Miller said. "Our guys didn't quit when we fell into a hole and kept battling with great effort. This is a tough one because our guys gave the effort needed to win, but Samford just made one more play to come away with the victory."

UNCG (8-19, 6-10 SoCon) connected on 54.2 percent (26-of-48) from the field and hit 43.8 percent (7-of-16) from three-point land in the loss. Senior guard Derrell Armstrong (Mechanicsville, Md./Allegany CC) scored 19 points and dished out six assists in the loss while junior Trevis Simpson (Douglas, Ga./Coffee) scored a team-high 22 points on the strength of four three-pointers.

Samford (11-18, 9-7 SoCon) conversely connected on 53.1 percent (26-of-49) from the field and 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from long range in the victory. The Bulldogs biggest difference was a 30-22 advantage on the glass with seven offensive rebounds as they out-scored the Spartans 11-2 in second chance points. Raijon Kelly led all scorers with 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field while Tim Williams chipped in 16 points.

The Spartans trailed 55-37 with 15:08 left in the half but out-scored Samford 34-15 over the next 14:49 to pull within one at 72-71. UNCG started the comeback with a 20-6 run to narrow the gap to 61-57 with 5:58 left in the game.

Simpson ignited the run as he scored seven quick points, including a deep three-pointer, while sophomore Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) added five, including his only three-pointer of the night to force a Samford timeout.

The Spartans didn't let the timeout slow their momentum as they turned to Armstrong. He scored eight straight points off of dribble drives slicing through the Samford defense to narrow the gap to four points.

The teams traded baskets back-and-forth before Tyler Hood hit a pair of free throws with 1:21 left to give Samford a 71-66 lead. The Spartans went to freshman forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) on the ensuing possession and he converted an old-fashioned three-point play to trim the lead to two at 71-69. After a defensive stop, UNCG had a chance to tie the game but Armstrong's floater was just off the mark and Samford corralled the rebound.

Samford's Tim Williams hit one of two free throws to keep the door open and once again Locke stepped up and scored in the paint to pull within one at 72-71 with 17 seconds left. UNCG was forced to foul and Kelly hit both free throws to make it a three-point game. The Spartans got a good look at the game-tying basket on the next possession but Simpson's three-pointer rolled around the rim and off thwarting UNCG's final effort.

Samford came out of the gate and opened on a 17-10 run taking the early lead. Williams started the scoring for the Bulldogs as he had their first six of the game before Kelly started going with eight points, including a pair of three-pointers.

The Spartans narrowed the gap to 29-23 as freshman Jordan Potts (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) and Simpson hit back-to-back three-pointers. Samford responded with a 16-4 run to take a 45-27 lead as it starting hitting from long range. The Bulldogs hit four three-pointers in the run on their way to a 9-of-13 (64.3%) shooting performance from deep in the half.

The Spartans scored the final two baskets of the half as junior David Williams (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) scored on a drive and Armstrong hit a runner in the lane at the buzzer to make it a 45-31 deficit at half. UNCG connected on 52.2 percent (12-of-23) from the field in the first half and hit 4-of-7 (57.1%) from long range but only hit 3-of-10 (30%) from the free throw line. Simpson and Armstrong each combined for nine first half points while Potts added five.

Samford did most of its damage from three-point land as its nine three-pointers helped hit shoot 56.7 percent (17-of-30) for the half. The Bulldogs also out-rebounded UNCG by an 18-12 margin, including five offensive rebounds which they turned into nine second chance points. Kelly led all first half scorers with 13 points while Williams added 10 points.

The Spartans round out the home portion of the regular season Wednesday night when they host Georgia Southern at 7 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans will honor their senior class as Derrell Armstrong (Mechanicsville, Md./Allegany CC), Brian Cole (Dacula, Ga./Dacula), Taylor Hoffer (Poulsbo, Wash./North Kitsap), Kelvin McNeil (Newport News, Va./Delaware) and Korey Van Dussen (Zeeland, Mich./Zeeland East) prior to the game.

- UNCG -

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