UNCG falls to Western Carolina in SoCon quarterfinals, 77-66
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Despite putting four players in double figures, UNCG wasn't able to overcome its 21 turnovers and 19-for-34 performance at the free throw line as the Spartans fell to Western Carolina, 77-66, in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
"They [Western Carolina] hit a lot of big shots today and hats go off to them," said coach Mike Dement. "They are a hard team to play against. We missed a lot of free throws which we had been hitting lately. That really hurt us, because we were not able to set up our defense because they were able to run their transition game on us. Offensively, they play good defense and made it tough on us. They are a very quick team though. We have athletes too, but it just came down to hitting shots in key moments, and some just did not fall for us."
Brandon Evans led the Spartans (7-24) in his final collegiate game as he recorded the game's lone double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Trevis Simpson had a team-high 17 points, while Aloysius Henry and Aaron Brackett each added 10 points. Brackett and Simpson also nearly had double-doubles as they finished with nine and eight rebounds, respectively.
Harouna Mutombo had a game-high 20 points for the Catamounts (18-14) and Mike Williams added 13 points and five assists. SoCon Freshman of the Year Trey Sumler had 12 points, while Keaton Cole had 10, as well.
The Catamounts jumped on the Spartans from the opening tip as they won the tip and raced down for a layup just four seconds into the contest. UNCG trailed 7-6 just four minutes into the game, but the Catamounts then went on a 12-0 run to open up a 19-6 lead with 12 minutes before the break.
Playing from behind against the team that leads the league in steals and turnover margin proved to be too much for UNCG. The Spartans committed 21 turnovers in the game, 12 of those being Catamount steals, which Western Carolina was able to turn into 29 points.
A pair of Brian Cole free throws with nine minutes before intermission cut the lead down to seven, but Western Carolina responded with a 13-5 run to stretch the lead out to 15.
UNCG once again tried to rally as a Brandon Evans tip in at the buzzer made it a 40-31 game heading into halftime.
The two teams traded baskets to start the second half and it seemed like UNCG had something going when Simpson drained a 3-pointer from the right corner to cut the Catamount lead down to six at 51-45.
Once again though, the Catamounts had an answer as they went on an 8-0 run to make it a 14-point advantage for the No. 1 seed in the North Division.
After trailing by 15 points with just under eight minutes remaining, UNCG attempted one final run. The Spartans went on an 8-0 run, thanks in part to a pair of jumpers from Brackett, to make it a 69-62 game with 3:36 on the clock.
The Catamounts would respond as they did all afternoon and take a 14 point lead before Kyle Randall hit a half-court jump shot at the buzzer to make the final score 77-66.
Western Carolina advanced to the semifinals where they will face Wofford on Sunday.
Western Carolina 77, UNCG 66
SIMPSON, Trevis 5-10 5-9 17; EVANS, Brandon 6-12 0-4 13; HENRY, Aloysius 3-8 4-6 10; BRACKETT, Aaron 4-8 2-2 10; RANDALL, Kyle 2-11 4-5 9; WILLIAMS, David 1-3 0-0 3; COLE, Brian 0-1 2-4 2; PARKER, Drew 0-2 1-2 1; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 0-2 1-2 1. Totals 21-57 19-34 66.
WESTERN CAROLINA (18-14)
MUTOMBO, Harouna 9-12 1-3 20; WILLIAMS, Mike 5-17 2-4 13; SUMLER, Trey 4-6 0-3 12; COLE, Keaton 2-5 4-4 10; GORDON, Richie 3-7 2-2 8; BOGGS, Brandon 3-9 0-0 6; KING, Tawaski 2-2 1-2 5; ROSS, Preston 1-4 0-0 3; GALLAGHER, Blake 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-62 10-18 77.
UNCG.......................... 31 35 - 66
Western Carolina.............. 40 37 - 77
3-point goals--UNCG 5-18 (SIMPSON, Trevis 2-2; EVANS, Brandon 1-5; WILLIAMS, David 1-2; RANDALL, Kyle 1-6; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 0-2; BRACKETT, Aaron 0-1), Western Carolina 9-17 (SUMLER, Trey 4-4; COLE, Keaton 2-4; MUTOMBO, Harouna 1-1; ROSS, Preston 1-1; WILLIAMS, Mike 1-7). Fouled out--UNCG-None, Western Carolina-None. Rebounds--UNCG 47 (EVANS, Brandon 11), Western Carolina 32 (MUTOMBO, Harouna 8). Assists--UNCG 7 (EVANS, Brandon 3), Western Carolina 17 (WILLIAMS, Mike 5). Total fouls--UNCG 17, Western Carolina 22. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Western Carolina-GORDON, Richie. SoCon Men's Basketball Tournament Game 5
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