UNCG falls in final seconds at Appalachian State, 75-70
BOONE, NC – UNC Greensboro rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit over the final 11:07 to have a shot to win it, but fell short at Appalachian State, 75-70.
By virtue of the loss, the Spartans are locked into the No. 10 seed in the upcoming Southern Conference Tournament. UNCG will face either Chattanooga or Western Carolina at 6 pm on March 2 at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, SC. Those teams finish the regular season with each other and the loser of that game will get UNCG.
D.J. Thompson had a game-high 29 points for Appalachian State (12-15, 6-8), which will get Wofford in the first round of the SoCon Tourney. Should Wofford win on Saturday against The Citadel, it will be the No. 8 seed. If not, Appalachian State would be No. 8 and Wofford would be No. 9. That game will take place at 3:30 on March 2.
After trailing by eight with five minutes left, UNCG made one last run. The Spartans cut the deficit to three on a trey by Ricky Hickman from the left corner with 2:01 to play, 69-66. After the Mountaineers’ Jeremy Clayton made one of two at the line and Appalachian State failed to capitalize on an offensive rebound, Hickman cut it to one with his fifth three-pointer of the game, a trey from the right wing.
After an Appalachian State timeout, Kyle Hines fouled Clayton, a 59.3 percent free throw shooter. Again, Clayton made one of two and it was a two-point game.
Hickman was fouled trying to get through a crowd in the lane, but made just one of two. On the ensuing in-bounds, UNCG nearly got a five-second call before the Mountaineer bench called timeout. Nate Cranford was then fouled on the next in-bounds sequence, connecting on one of two and leaing the door open again. But Hickman missed a three-pointer from the right wing with 15 seconds left and UNCG was forced to foul.
Yet, again, Appalachian State made just one two from the line to give UNCG a chance to tie. This time, however, Hickman drove the lane and tried to pitch it back to Brian Beckford in the right corner. Hickman was stripped in the crowd, however, and, this time, Appalachian State iced the game at the foul line.
“Our kids showed a lot of character again tonight,” said UNCG coach Mike Dement. “We fought back from down 14 and gave ourselves a couple of chances to tie it or win it. We’ve done that a couple of times on the road this season and just not been able to come away with the win. We did it at East Carolina, but haven’t been able to do it other times. I am proud of my kids, however.
“We made the run because we played great defense and rebounded on the defensive glass. Beckford played well and we got great games from Hickman and Hines. Night after night, those two guys have incredible defensive pressure and still keep putting up great numbers.”
Hickman and Hines each finished with 23 points to lead UNCG. For Hines, it was his 11th 20-point game this season, while it was Hickman’s 10th.
Hickman, a junior from Kernersville, NC who moved into 12th place on UNCG’s all-time scoring list, scored in double figures for the 26th consecutive game to tie Robert Bryant’s school mark. Bryant set the record in 1985-86, his only season with the Spartans, by scoring in double digits in every game he played for the then-Division III program. Hickman’s string goes back to the 2005 SoCon Tournament. Davidson held him to eight points in UNCG’s upset of the Wildcats in the SoCon semifinals.
Hines, a sophomore from Sicklerville, NJ, also extended his double-figure scoring streak to 18 straight games, which is tied for the fifth-longest in UNCG history.
The first half was a battle of runs. UNCG scored the first bucket on the game on a Hines put-back, but Appalachian State ran off 10 in a row after that to open up an early lead and forced Dement to call an early timeout to settle his team down.
It worked as the Spartans ran off 11 straight coming out of the timeout, taking just 1:46 to turn it around. Hickman responded by scoring the next five and then forcing a pair of turnovers that UNCG turned into fast break buckets and just like that the Spartans were back on top.
Thompson capped off a 12-1 run that gave the Mountaineers a 25-19 lead with 7:39 left in the half and gave Thompson’s his 1000th point of his career, making him the 27th player in school history to achieve the milestone.
The teams settled into a little more back-and-forth at that point and Appalachian State took a 37-34 lead into the half.
But when the second half started, so did the runs again. Back-to-back three-pointers by Thompson sparked a 7-0 Mountaineer run to open the second half as Appalachian State took a 44-34 lead.
The Mountaineers stretched the lead to 14 before UNCG went on a 13-1 run, sparked by a Dwayne Johnson three-pointer from the top of the key, which cut it to 57-50 with nine minutes to play. Appalachian State went more than five minutes without a field goal as UNCG cut the deficit to two, 58-56.
UNCG managed just one field goal over the next four minutes and Appalachian State recovered, using a 7-1 spurt during part of the drought to open an eight-point advantage and set the stage for the thrilling conclusion.
The Spartans will close out the regular season on Saturday afternoon when they host Elon University. The game tips off at 12 noon at Fleming Gym and will be televised locally by Fox SportsNet South and nationally by Fox College Sports Central.
SIDELINES: Dwayne Johnson recorded his 100th career assist on Thursday night, making him the 20th in school history to achieve the century mark... Hickman also extended his consecutive games with a 3-pointer streak to 24 straight games... Hines entered Thursday night’s contest shooting an incredible 66.9 percent from the floor against Southern Conference foes in his career (200-299)... UNCG has only had two players average better than 15.0 ppg in the same season twice before. It will likely happen this year as Kyle Hines was averaging 18.8 ppg and Ricky Hickman was averaging 18.6 ppg entering Thursday’s game. The other two times is happened were in 1987-88 and 2003-04... Kevin Oleksiak missed his third consecutive game with a groin injury. He is listed as questionable for Saturday’s regular season finale against Elon.
APPALACHIAN STATE 75, UNC GREENSBORO 70
UNC GREENSBORO (11-17, 4-9 SoCon)
HICKMAN, Ricky 7-13 4-7 23; HINES, Kyle 10-13 3-8 23; BECKFORD, Brian 2-4 3-5 8; JOHNSON, Dwayne 3-7 0-0 7; AKINOSHO, Matt 2-6 1-2 5; McCLENNY, David 1-4 2-2 4; MOORE, Donald 0-0 0-0 0; TOOMS, Bart 0-1 0-0 0; SIMMONS, Everson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-48 13-24 70.
APPALACHIAN STATE (12-15, 6-8 SoCon)
THOMPSON, D.J. 9-19 6-6 29; CLAYTON, Jeremy 4-5 6-10 14; McLAUGHLIN-WILLIAMS 3-7 1-2 9; BERMUDEZ, Eduardo 3-7 0-0 8; WEBB, Tyler 1-2 4-6 6; CRANFORD, Nathan 1-7 3-4 6; SCOTT, Demetrius 1-3 1-2 3; JACKSON, Jarvis 0-0 0-0 0; HARPER, Jeremy 0-0 0-0 0; HENDERSON, P.L. 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-51 21-30 75.
Halftime: Appalachian State 37-34. 3-point goals-UNC Greensboro 7-15 (HICKMAN, Ricky 5-9; BECKFORD, Brian 1-2; JOHNSON, Dwayne 1-2; McCLENNY, David 0-1; HINES, Kyle 0-1), Appalachian State 10-25 (THOMPSON, D.J. 5-10; BERMUDEZ, Eduardo 2-2; McLAUGHLIN- WILLIAMS 2-5; CRANFORD, Nathan 1-7; WEBB, Tyler 0-1). Fouled out—UNC Greensboro-None, Appalachian State-None. Rebounds-UNC Greensboro 30 (HINES, Kyle 6), Appalachian State 34 (CLAYTON, Jeremy 9). Assists-UNC Greensboro 15 (JOHNSON, Dwayne 5), Appalachian State 14 (THOMPSON, D.J. 4). Total fouls-UNC Greensboro 21, Appalachian State 22. A-2289
- UNCG -