Spartans fall to Davidson in regular-season finale, 78-67
By Rob Daniels
DAVIDSON, N.C. – The UNCG Spartans are done with ancillary participation in other teams' festivities, but they're not through with the Davidson Wildcats. After Saturday, they can embrace both of those facts.
The Spartans successfully overcame a double-digit deficit for the seventh time in Southern Conference play this season, but Wildcat 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions restored momentum and elevated the home team to a 78-67 victory as Davidson feted its seniors before the game and the Lefty Driesell era at halftime.
Including its own Senior Night, UNCG has now seen three of the traditional sendoffs in the past eight days. And Saturday's result ensures the Spartans and Wildcats will face each other for the third time this season when the conference tournament convenes next week in Chattanooga, Tenn.
"Hopefully, we'll get better in transition defense because that's where they hurt us the most," UNCG coach Mike Dement said.
UNCG (6-23, 6-12 SoCon) and Davidson (17-13, 10-8) are set for a first-round game at 7 p.m. Friday. The contest will be video-streamed by the league's website.
Saturday's affair was similar to so many of its 2010-11 predecessors on the UNCG schedule. After the Spartans were down 14 in the first half, they put together an impressive run spanning halftime and took the lead twice. That included an 8-for-10 shooting stretch to which five players contributed.
Along the way, however, UNCG was expending considerable effort on defense, specifically a 1-3-1 zone trap that bothered the Wildcats at times but couldn't prevent looks from 3-point land altogether. The nature of the beast is that an opponent is always open, and that makes deflected passes mandatory. If the defense can't disrupt flow, there will be an available shooter at some point. Even if an attempt is missed, the effort required is extensive.
While the Wildcats went 1-for-9 from downtown in one stretch, UNCG capped off another of its comebacks, a 26-10 stretch in which Trevis Simpson had seven quick points and Brian Cole gave his team its first advantage at 47-46 with 13:50 to play.
This was encouraging but not necessarily sufficient grounds to begin celebrating.
"Coach calls it a junk defense," Simpson said. "Yeah, you get some turnovers, but after a while, you burn yourselves out, and any good team starts to get more patient."
In the decisive stretch, all three trifectas came against man-to-man and two of them were in transition. The Spartans got back down the floor in those instances, but when they couldn't immediately find trailing shooters, they paid a heavy price.
Brendan McKillop, the son of Davidson coach Bob McKillop and one of the three Wildcats seniors, drained two of the shots as the Cats went on a 9-0 run in 51 seconds to turn a 54-all tie into a sudden nine-point edge.
"We worked really hard to (take the lead), but it tires you. It tires you quickly," Dement said. "They knocked down those three 3-pointers. Just like that. It was a punch to us."
Sophomore forward Jake Cohen scored 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting for the Wildcats, who have won nine of 10.
Simpson had another big game for the Spartans against the Wildcats, delivering 18 points. In the teams' first meeting, a Spartan victory in January, he went for 33 – the third-highest total by an NCAA freshman in Division I competition this season.
The Spartans committed only eight turnovers but were beaten on the boards 40-29.
Davidson 78, UNCG 67
UNCG (6-23, 6-12 SoCon)
SIMPSON, Trevis 6-12 4-4 18; EVANS, Brandon 6-13 5-6 18; HENRY, Aloysius 4-7 1-1 9; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 4-7 0-0 8; COLE, Brian 2-7 0-0 4; WILLIAMS, David 2-4 0-0 4; RANDALL, Kyle 2-7 0-0 4; BRACKETT, Aaron 0-4 2-2 2; HENEGAR, Cody 0-1 0-0 0; PARKER, Drew 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 26-65 12-13 67.
DAVIDSON (17-13,10-8 SoCon)
COHEN, Jake 11-14 2-2 27; MCKILLOP, Brendan 5-10 2-2 17; COCHRAN, Nik 2-6 4-4 9; BROOKS, De'Mon 3-6 1-2 8; MANN, Clint 2-4 2-3 6; DRONEY, Tom 2-4 1-2 5; DOWNING, Jordan 1-1 0-0 2; ALLISON, Ben 1-2 0-0 2; BEN-EZE, Frank 1-1 0-0 2; CZERAPOWICZ, Chris 0-2 0-0 0; ATKINSON, AJ 0-0 0-0 0; MACKAY, Ali 0-0 0-0 0; REIGEL, Will 0-0 0-0 0; TORMEY, Clay 0-0 0-0 0; KUHLMAN, JP 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 28-55 12-15 78.
UNCG.......................... 32 35 - 67
Davidson...................... 39 39 - 78
3-point goals--UNCG 3-17 (SIMPSON, Trevis 2-5; EVANS, Brandon 1-4; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 0-1; COLE, Brian 0-3; RANDALL, Kyle 0-2; HENEGAR, Cody 0-1; PARKER, Drew 0-1), Davidson 10-28 (MCKILLOP, Brendan 5-10; COHEN, Jake 3-4; BROOKS, De'Mon 1-1; COCHRAN, Nik 1-5; CZERAPOWICZ, Chris 0-2; KUHLMAN, JP 0-4; DRONEY, Tom 0-2). Fouled out--UNCG-None, Davidson-None. Rebounds—UNCG 29 (BRACKETT, Aaron 6), Davidson 40 (DRONEY, Tom 7). Assists--UNCG 6 (EVANS, Brandon 3), Davidson 16 (DRONEY, Tom 4; MCKILLOP, Brendan 4). Total fouls--UNCG 15, Davidson 11. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Davidson-None. A-3762
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