Spartans hang on late for 71-69 win at Samford
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –Trevis Simpson scored a game-high 25 points and UNCG withstood four final-minute shots by Samford as the Spartans held on for a 71-69 Southern Conference win over the Bulldogs, Thursday at Pete Hanna Center.
The win – coupled with Elon's loss at Chattanooga – moved the Spartans (10-15 overall, 8-5 SoCon) into a tie atop the North Division standings with the Phoenix.
Leading 71-69 with under a minute to play, UNCG forced Samford (9-15, 6-7) into four straight misses. With 35 seconds left, Drew Windler missed a three-pointer, but the Bulldogs got the rebound and called timeout. After the timeout Raijon Kelly missed another three-pointer for Samford and David Williams nearly came up with a long defensive rebound for the Spartans. But Williams knocked the ball out of bounds in the back court, giving Samford one more chance.
After another Samford timeout, Jeffrey Merritt missed a wide open three-pointer from the left corner with seven second to go, and Windler missed a tip-in before Williams came out of a crowd with the game-clinching rebound for UNCG.
What appeared at one point to be an offensive explosion by both teams turned into a defensive grinder during the second half. The teams were tied at 41 all at halftime, and Samford scored the first five points of the half for a 46-41 lead with 19:01 left.
UNCG eventually tied the game at 49-49 on a three-point play by Simpson, but again Samford pushed out to a five point advantage at 56-51 with 12:20 left.
The Bulldogs led 60-57 with 8:41 remaining before going cold. Nicholas Paulos tied it at 60 with a three-pointer at 7:22, and a layup by Aloysius Henry and two Simpson free throws gave the Spartans a 64-60 edge with 6:05 to go. UNCG never trailed again.
Samford pulled to within a point three times in the final five minutes, the last coming when Kelly hit a jumper with 3:41 left to make it 69-68. But the Bulldogs misfired on their final five field goal attempts, and Merritt missed a pair of free throws with 2:02 to go and Samford trailing by a point.
Simpson finished 8-of-21 from the field, including four 3-pointers, and made all five of his free throw attempts. He added seven rebounds in 33 minutes.
Derrell Armstrong scored 13 points for UNCG, and Paulos added 12. Henry grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Windler led Samford with 18 points.
The Spartans shot 38 percent for the game, while limiting Samford to 40 percent shooting. UNCG was 16-of-20 at the free throw line, compared to 10-of-16 for the Bulldogs.
The Spartans return to action when they visit Chattanooga, 7:30 p.m., Saturday.