BOONE, N.C.—UNCG couldn't overcome 31 percent shooting and a stellar effort by Appalachian State's Omar Carter in suffering a 78-64 defeat in the Southern Conference opener for both teams, Thursday at Holmes Center.
Carter was 9-of-15 from the field and made all but one of his six free throw attempts. He also added three assists. Trevis Simpson and Aaron Brackett led the Spartans with 17 points each, and Brackett added nine rebounds in his first starting assignment this season.
UNCG (2-5, 0-1) was the aggressor early on, leading by as many as seven points when a three-pointer by Simpson gave the Spartans a 24-17 lead with 9:15 left in the first half.
But after a timeout the Mountaineers (4-2, 1-0) quickly erased UNCG's lead. Rodney Milum tied the game at 26-26 with a three-pointer and Tab Hamilton gave the Mountaineers the lead for good moments later when his trey made it 29-26 with 5:57 left in the half.
Appalachian State led 43-33 at halftime.
Despite the deficit, the Spartans kept fighting in the second half. A 5-0 spurt to start the half pulled UNCG within 43-38, and after the Mountaineers pushed the lead back to double digits (48-38), UNCG got to within 48-43 after a layup by Korey Van Dussen and a three-pointer by Kyle Randall with 13:30 remaining.
The Mountaineers, however, maintained their lead and kept UNCG at bay. After the Spartans trimmed what had been a 13-point advantage down to nine (62-53), App State went on a 9-2 run and took a 71-55 lead with 2:53 left. UNCG never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
For the second straight year Brackett enjoyed an impressive outing at the Holmes Center. The 6-8 senior was 7-of-11 from the field and made three of his four free throws. Simpson, playing with a thumb injury on his right (shooting) hand, was just 6-of-20 from the field, including 3-of-10 from three-point range.
Derrell Armstrong scored 10 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three assists in his first start of the year for UNCG.
Appalachian State edged UNCG on the boards, 41-40. UNCG committed just 11 turnovers while forcing the Mountaineers into 17 miscues. But App State shot 49 percent from the field, including a 10-of-22 effort from beyond the arc.
The Spartans continue their SoCon road trip when they visit Western Carolina, 4:30 p.m., Saturday.