Late surge falls short as Samford tops UNCG, 70-67
GREENSBORO, N.C. - UNCG's Brandon Evans had a three-pointer from the top of the key bounce off the front of the rim as time expired and Samford came away with a 70-67 win in an eventful Southern Conference men's basketball game at Fleming Gym on Saturday afternoon.
Midway through the second half, Samford coach Jimmy Tillette collapsed in front of the Bulldog bench, suffering a seizure. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for observation and was listed in stable condition.
Trey Montgomery led Samford with 18 points. The Bulldogs (9-10, 3-4) shot 66.7 percent from the floor in the second half (14-for-21) to rally from a seven-point halftime deficit.
Ben Stywall led UNCG (4-16, 3-6) with a season-high 26 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. He was 14-of-15 at the free throw line and 6-of-9 from the floor in recording his fourth straight double-double and 10th this season. Evans added 15 points and Mikko Koivisto chipped in 11 points.
The start of the game was a continuation of the first meeting six weeks earlier in Birmingham. UNCG finished that first meeting on an amazing 40-9 run en route to a 33-point win. The Spartans began this game on a 13-3 run over the first eight minutes. However, the Bulldogs slowly climbed back into it after trailing by as many as 13.
After calling its second timeout in the first 10 minutes of the game, Samford went on a 16-6 over the next five minutes to climb back within three at 24-21. But the Spartans scored the next seven points in a 90-second span, capped off by a Koivisto trey, to extend the advantage back to double digits.
Samford chipped away again, holding UNCG without a field goal for the final 3:10 of the first half and the first three minutes of the second half. A pair of free throws by Stywall in the closing seconds gave UNCG a little breathing room and a 35-28 lead at the break. But the Bulldogs ran out on a 9-1 spurt in the first 2:14 of the second half to take their first lead of the day, 37-36.
The struggles on offense continued for UNCG as it ran to just two field goals in a 10-minute span, but a nifty no-look pass by Korey Van Dussen found Stywall for a layup and a 45-44 lead.
Samford rattled off the next eight points, though, as UNCG coach Mike Dement got two technical fouls nearly simultaneously and was ejected with 11:49 to play. The Bulldogs converted three of the four ensuing free throws and then followed with a three-pointer by Kaylin Johnson to turn UNCG's 45-44 lead into a 50-45 Samford advantage.
Samford's Jeffrey Merritt followed with a lay-up to make it 52-45 and 20 seconds later Matthew Friday was whistled for a foul. Tillette collapsed near the Samford bench following the foul call with 10:14 to play. He was tended to by medical staffers and was carried to the UNCG athletic training room several minutes later.
The Bulldogs didn't score for three minutes after that as UNCG slowly climbed back on top, 53-52, on two Stywall free throws with 7:46 remaining. Samford regrouped, however, and went on a 13-2 run, with Montgomery scoring seven of the points, to take a 65-55 lead with 3:04 left.
The Samford lead was still nine with a minute to play when UNCG made a late charge. Stywall scored to make it 67-60 with 37 seconds left. After a turnover, Koivisto knocked down two free throws to cut it five. Gaby Bermudez hit one of two at the line for Samford with 26 seconds left, but Kendall Toney's three from the left wing made a one-possession game, 68-65, with 18 seconds left.
Montgomery hit one of two at the line with 15 seconds on the clock to make it a four-point advantage. Toney missed a three-pointer with 10 seconds to go, but Stywall put it back to make it 69-67. Montgomery was fouled again with five seconds left and missed the first to leave the door open. He made the second and the Bulldogs called a timeout to set their defense.
Evans got off a contested shot from about 21 feet, but it hit the front of the rim.
The Spartans continue their three-game homestand Thursday back at the Greensboro Coliseum, entertaining backyard rival Elon. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
SAMFORD 70, UNCG 67
SAMFORD (9-10, 3-4)
Trey Montgomery 6-10 5-8 18; Bryan Friday 3-7 5-7 11; Josh Davis 2-7 4-5 10; Jeffrey Merritt 4-4 0-1 9; Andy King 3-7 0-0 7; Kaylin Johnson 2-2 0-0 5; John Peterson 2-3 0-0 5; Matthew Friday 2-2 0-0 4; Gaby Bermudez 0-1 1-2 1; Josh Bedwell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-44 15-23 70.
UNCG (4-16, 3-6)
Ben Stywall 6-9 14-15 26; Brandon Evans 5-11 4-6 15; Mikko Koivisto 3-11 2-3 11; Pete Brown 3-5 0-0 6; Kyle Randall 2-10 0-0 4; Kendall Toney 1-7 0-0 3; Brian Cole 1-4 0-0 2; Montel Smith 0-2 0-0 0; Deangelo Jackson 0-0 0-0 0; Korey Van Dussen 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-61 20-24 67.
Halftime: UNCG 35-28. 3-point goals--Samford 7-16 (Josh Davis 2-5; Kaylin Johnson 1-1; Trey Montgomery 1-4; Jeffrey Merritt 1-1; Andy King 1-3; John Peterson 1-1; Gaby Bermudez 0-1), UNCG 5-27 (Mikko Koivisto 3-9; Kendall Toney 1-7; Brandon Evans 1-5; Montel Smith 0-1; Korey Van Dussen 0-1; Kyle Randall 0-4). Fouled out--Samford-Jeffrey Merritt, UNCG-None. Rebounds--Samford 24 (Andy King 6), UNCG 38 (Ben Stywall 19). Assists--Samford 15 (Josh Davis 3; Bryan Friday 3; Trey Montgomery 3), UNCG 8 (Brandon Evans 2; Ben Stywall 2). Total fouls--Samford 19, UNCG 19. Technical fouls--Samford-None, UNCG-TEAM 2. A-1854
SAMFORD ATHLETICS' OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING SAMFORD HEAD COACH JIMMY TILLETTE'S HEALTH STATUS
"Coach Tillette is awake and responsive. He was obviously a bit groggy, but was talking and sitting up in the ambulance on his way to Moses Cone Hospital located in Greensboro, N.C., where he will undergo further tests.
"Midway through the second half of Samford's game at UNC Greensboro, Tillette suffered a seizure on the sideline next to the Bulldogs' bench. Both athletic trainers immediately responded and began treatment. He was then preliminarily taken to the UNCG Training Room where they worked on him until the ambulance arrived."
FREE THROWS: Because of the ejection, Dement will not coach in Thursday's game against Elon. Southern Conference sportsmanship rules state that all ejections carry an automatic one-game suspension. It was the first time in Dement's 23-year career that he was ejected from a game (645 games)... Stywall's 14 free throws are the second-most in school history... Stywall became the sixth player in school history to surpass the 200 rebound mark in multiple seasons. He now has 848 rebounds for his career, 11 behind Eric Cuthrell for third place on the school's all-time list.
- UNCG -