STATESBORO, Ga. – Down by one, Kyle Randall stole the ball with 22 seconds remaining and then found Aaron Brackett who buried a jumper from the right wing with 17 seconds left to propel UNCG to a 57-56 comeback win over Georgia Southern on Thursday night in Hanner Fieldhouse.
The Spartans (6-22, 6-11 Southern Conference), who never led the entire game until Brackett's jumper, trailed by five with 90 seconds left in the contest. UNCG then went to a full court press and Korey Van Dussen came up with a steal and found Kyle Randall for a layup to make it 52-49 with 1:25 remaining.
On the next possession, Van Dussen came up with another steal and found Brandon Evans who was fouled on a layup attempt. Evans would knock down both free throws to cut the deficit to one at 52-51 with just 64 seconds left in the game.
On the following possession, Georgia Southern's Rory Spencer converted a traditional three-point play to put the Eagles back in front at 55-51 with only 46 seconds to go. Once again, it was Evans who responded by getting fouled and converting a pair of free throws to pull the Spartans with two.
UNCG fouled Jelani Hewitt on the ensuing inbounds, but Hewitt only converted on the front end of his two free throws to make it 56-53 with 34 seconds left. UNCG went down and scored an easy layup by Evans with 26 seconds to go to cut the Eagle lead back down to one.
The Eagles (5-25, 1-16 SoCon) had trouble on the inbounds and threw it long to allow Ben Drayton to run and grab the ball. He attempted to go for a layup, but lost it on the way up and Randall was there to steal the ball before finding Brackett for the final basket.
The Spartans came up with one final stop in the closing seconds and Eric Ferguson's jumper from around seven feet didn't even draw iron as Evans came down with the rebound to seal the victory.
Evans led all scorers with 20 points, including a 10-11 mark at the charity stripe, while also pulling down seven rebounds. Trevis Simpson fought foul trouble during the entire second half, but still came away with 13 points. Brackett finished the evening with eight points and rebounds, as well.
Spencer led the Eagles with 11 points, while Drayton and Ferguson were also in double figures with 10 points each. Marvin Baynham also turned in nine points on a perfect 4-4 from the field.
Things didn't start well for the Spartans on Thursday as they didn't make their first field goal until nine minutes into the contest and trailed 13-4 in the early going. A jumper by Evans with 8:26 left before halftime pulled UNCG within four points at 13-9.
The Eagles would go on to extend their lead to as many as 13 late in the opening half before a jumper by Simpson at the buzzer made the halftime score, 27-16. The 16 points by UNCG tied for the lowest point total in a first half this season after the Spartans also posted just 16 points against Clemson in December.
UNCG opened the second half on a 12-4 run to cut the Eagle lead down to three a 31-28. The Spartans cut it to three again at 33-30, but Georgia Southern responded with a 7-0 run to stretch its lead back to 10.
A jumper by Brackett cut it to three again with six minutes remaining, but UNCG wasn't able to get any closer than five the rest of the way until the waning seconds.
The Spartans will wrap up the regular season on Saturday as they travel to Davidson for a 2 p.m. contest.
UNCG 57, Georgia Southern 56
UNCG (6-22, 6-11 SoCon)
EVANS, Brandon 5-10 10-11 20; SIMPSON, Trevis 5-10 1-2 13; BRACKETT, Aaron 4-8 0-0 8; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 1-4 1-2 4; COLE, Brian 2-4 0-0 4; HENRY, Aloysius 0-3 3-4 3; PARKER, Drew 0-0 2-2 2; RANDALL, Kyle 1-5 0-0 2; WILLIAMS, David 0-1 1-2 1; HENEGAR, Cody 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-45 18-23 57.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (5-25, 1-16 SoCon)
SPENCER, Rory 3-4 5-6 11; FERGUSON, Eric 4-9 2-4 10; DRAYTON, Ben 4-10 1-3 10; BAYNHAM. Marvin 4-4 1-4 9; HEWITT, Jelani 2-8 1-2 6; JAMES, Zuri 2-4 0-0 6; BASKERVILLE, C 2-2 0-0 4; MIKE, Sam 0-0 0-0 0; BUSSEY, Tré 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-43 10-19 56.
UNCG.......................... 16 41 - 57
Georgia Southern.............. 27 29 - 56
3-point goals--UNCG 3-11 (SIMPSON, Trevis 2-3; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 1-2; COLE, Brian 0-1; RANDALL, Kyle 0-2; EVANS, Brandon 0-3), Georgia Southern 4-13 (JAMES, Zuri 2-4; HEWITT, Jelani 1-5; DRAYTON, Ben 1-2; BUSSEY, Tré 0-1; FERGUSON, Eric 0-1). Fouled out--UNCG-SIMPSON, Trevis, Georgia Southern-None. Rebounds--UNCG 29 (BRACKETT, Aaron 8), Georgia Southern 28 (BASKERVILLE, C 6). Assists--UNCG 6 (RANDALL, Kyle 3), Georgia Southern 12 (DRAYTON, Ben 3). Total fouls--UNCG 20, Georgia Southern 21. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Georgia Southern-None. A-1504
- UNCG -