By Rob Daniels
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG Spartans' fortunes are starting to take on similar style to go with substance. For the second time in 48 hours, UNCG wiped out a double-digit second-half deficit Saturday only to drop a tight verdict to a Southern Conference visitor. This time, Chattanooga immediately followed the only tie of the second half with a quick strike five seconds later and claimed a 70-65 decision.
"I'm proud of these guys," coach Mike Dement said after his team fell to 0-14 overall and 0-4 in the SoCon. "We're the battlin' Spartans, man.
"We're inching forward. We're playing better, but we still break down and give up the drive on the baseline with no help or the missed free-throw block out. We miss the open 3-pointer. Others will, too, but ours seem to carry much more weight because we haven't won."
UNCG, which scored 13 straight points to start Thursday's second half and eradicate a 40-27 deficit in an eventual 68-64 defeat to Samford, gradually came back this time from 42-29 down. Its key was extreme opportunity from the foul line, from which it went 18-for-25. The Spartans actually crawled out of the hole while shooting 32 percent from the floor after the break.
Aloysius Henry had the best statistical game of his Spartan career, delivering 17 points and 11 rebounds while contributing to the disqualification of three Mocs post players. And his move in the lane with 1:32 capped the run and evened the score at 63-all.
Before they had the chance to enjoy the moment, Chattanooga's Ricky Taylor was streaking downcourt, taking Keegan Bell's pass and drawing a foul. His two free throws with 1:27 to play put the Mocs up to stay.
"We always want to get out quick and run, and when other teams make big baskets like that, it's always the best time to go on the attack," Bell said. "Ricky made a great play."
UNCG failed on a subsequent possession and Chris Early's pull-up jumper with 28.3 seconds to play gave the Mocs breathing room.
The result wasn't the desired one, and the means weren't pretty, but a continuous drive for loose balls and aggressive post position by Henry induced the foul calls that fueled the comeback. Henry went only 4-for-11 from the floor, but his efforts took away the Mocs' inside game on the other end. DeAntre Jefferson, who had been a factor in recent weeks, went scoreless in 15 minutes Saturday.
"Aloysius was a moose," Chattanooga coach John Shulman said. "There were a lot of ways in which he dominated us. One of them was that Jefferson didn't get to play any."
Henry went 9-for-15 from the foul line, getting there by drawing considerable attention on the offensive glass.
"I was just trying to be aggressive," the junior-college transfer said. "Coach told me to continue to seal (off defenders.) The guards looked inside, I got a couple of dunks and I went to the line often."
UNCG, which had lamented previous substandard starts, didn't have the problem this time. The Spartans jumped out to an 8-0 lead, matching their largest advantage at any point of any game this season. But the momentum didn't last; in fact, it switched sides as the Mocs, 10-for-27 from the 3-point line on the day, outscored the Spartans 27-4 to take control.
Omar Wattad delivered a career-high 26 points for the Mocs.
"And he gave up 27," Shulman joked.
"Twenty-six," Wattad chimed in.
The Spartans take another crack at the season's first win when Elon comes to the coliseum at 7 p.m. Monday.
Chattanooga 70, UNCG 65
CHATTANOOGA (8-8, 4-0 SoCon)
WATTAD, Omar 8-17 5-8 26; TAYLOR, Ricky 6-16 6-9 19; BELL, Keegan 4-8 1-3 13; EARLY, Chris 2-9 0-0 4; BURROUGHS, Jahmal 2-3 0-2 4; HAMPTON, Dontay 0-1 2-2 2; CAGE, Troy 0-3 1-2 1; WATSON, Sam 0-0 1-2 1; SAFFORE, Jeremy 0-1 0-0 0; JEFFERSON, DeAntre 0-0 0-2 0; SMITH, Jeff 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-58 16-30 70.
UNCG (0-14, 0-4 SoCon)
HENRY, Aloysius 4-11 9-15 17; RANDALL, Kyle 4-13 3-3 13; COLE, Brian 3-5 2-2 10; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 4-10 0-0 9; WILLIAMS, David 1-1 6-7 8; BRACKETT, Aaron 2-3 2-5 6; SIMPSON, Trevis 1-8 0-1 2; EVANS, Brandon 0-2 0-0 0; HENEGAR, Cody 0-1 0-0 0; PARKER, Drew 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-54 22-33 65.
Chattanooga................... 38 32 - 70
UNCG.......................... 27 38 - 65
3-point goals--Chattanooga 10-27 (WATTAD, Omar 5-8; BELL, Keegan 4-6; TAYLOR, Ricky 1-7; HAMPTON, Dontay 0-1; CAGE, Troy 0-1; BURROUGHS, Jahmal 0-1; EARLY, Chris 0-3), UNCG 5-20 (RANDALL, Kyle 2-7; COLE, Brian 2-3; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 1-5; SIMPSON, Trevis 0-2; EVANS, Brandon 0-2; HENEGAR, Cody 0-1). Fouled out--Chattanooga-SAFFORE, Jeremy; BURROUGHS, Jahmal; JEFFERSON, DeAntre, UNCG-None. Rebounds--Chattanooga 45 (BURROUGHS, Jahmal 8), UNCG 31 (HENRY, Aloysius 11). Assists--Chattanooga 8 (TAYLOR, Ricky 2), UNCG 10 (RANDALL, Kyle 3; PARKER, Drew 3). Total fouls--Chattanooga 27, UNCG 24. Technical fouls--Chattanooga-None, UNCG-None. A-2654
- UNCG -