GREENSBORO, N.C.—Derrell Armstrong scored a career-high 29 points, part of a 54-point explosion by UNCG's reserves, as the Spartans earned their third straight victory with an 81-72 Southern Conference win over Chattanooga on Thursday at Greensboro Coliseum.
Armstrong was 10-of-16 from the field, including 5-of-8 from three-point range, while making four of five shots from the free throw line. His three-point total against the Mocs matched his season total coming into the game. The junior guard also finished with five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
UNCG (5-14 overall, 3-4 SoCon) opened the game by missing its first six shots from the field and quickly fell into a 7-0 deficit, forcing interim head coach Wes Miller to call a timeout just 2:35 into the game. Armstrong and fellow reserve Nicholas Paulos entered the game and combined to score all 18 points during an 18-4 run as UNCG grabbed an 18-11 lead with 13:17 left in the half.
Forward David Williams scored the only field goal of the half for the starting five to give the Spartans a 20-15 lead with 11:21 left before halftime, and then it was back to work offensively for the reserves.
After Chattanooga (9-11, 3-4) three times cut the lead to one point, a three-pointer by Paulos, a three-point play by Armstrong and five straight points from Kyle Randall helped UNCG push its lead to 37-29 with 1:13 left. The Mocs scored a late basket as UNCG settled for a 37-31 halftime advantage.
UNCG's reserves scored 34 of 37 points in the first half but despite all the bench support, the Spartans had to fight back to win the game.
Chattanooga opened the second half with a 9-0 run, taking a 40-37 lead on a three-pointer by Omar Wattad with 17:33 to play. A jumper by Trevis Simpson temporarily stopped the bleeding for UNCG, but the Mocs responded with Drazen Zlovaric jumper for a 42-39 advantage.
After Drew Parker tied the game at 42 all with a three-pointer at 14:42, the teams traded baskets and leads over the next three-and-a-half minutes before the Spartans finally surged ahead for good. With Chattanooga leading 50-49, Simpson and Korey Van Dussen hit back-to-back three-pointers, giving the Spartans a 55-50 lead with 10:24 left to play.
UNCG eventually pushed its lead to double figures when a three-pointer by Armstrong made it 67-57 with 6:04 to go, and the advantage swelled to 12 points when a pair of Randall free throws made it a 69-57 game with 4:42 left.
But Chattanooga didn't go away. With UNCG up 72-62 with 3:29 left, the Mocs went on an 8-0 run, closing to within 72-70 on a three-pointer by Keegan Bell with 1:36 left.
But Armstrong and Aaron Brackett went 4-for-4 from the free throw line over the next 75 seconds as the Spartans hung on for the win.
UNCG shot 44 percent from the field, making a season-high 13 three-pointers in the process. The Spartans were just 11-of-19 from the free throw line, but also committed just eight turnovers. UNCG's bench out-scored its Chattanooga counterparts by a whopping 54-12.
The Mocs were limited to 42 percent shooting, including a 6-of-18 effort from three-point range. Chattanooga out-rebounded UNCG by a 40-35 count.
Randall joined Armstrong in double figures, scoring a season-high 15 points. David Williams chipped in with 10 points, and was the only starter to score in double figures. Leading scorer Simpson was limited to five points on 2-of-11 shooting before fouling out late in the game.
Aaron Brackett grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.
Wattad led Chattanooga with 19 points.
The Spartans return to the court when they host Samford, 2 p.m., Sunday at Greensboro Coliseum.