STATESBORO, Ga. – Five players scored in double figures to lead Georgia Southern to an 83-69 Southern Conference win over UNCG, Saturday at Hanner Fieldhouse.
The Spartans, who earlier in the day clinched at least a share of the North Division title, missed out on an opportunity to clinch the division outright. The loss snaps UNCG's three-game winning streak and drops the Spartans to 12-16 overall and 10-6 in SoCon play.
Ben Drayton scored a game-high 19 points for Georgia Southern (14-12, 12-4) as the Eagles picked up their sixth straight victory.
UNCG led throughout much of the first half, though the lead did change hands four times in the first 20 minutes. With the game tied at 25-25, the Spartans went on a 12-4 and grabbed their biggest lead of the game when Korey Van Dussen drilled a three-pointer for a 37-29 advantage with 31 seconds left in the half.
Georgia Southern's Tre Bussey hit a three just before the halftime buzzer to cut UNCG's lead to 37-32 at the break.
The Spartans maintained their lead throughout the early stages of the second half, leading 46-39 on an Aloysius Henry layup with 15:19 to play. But Georgia Southern began to exert itself on both ends of the floor and quickly took control.
Six straight points by Jelani Hewitt pulled the Eagles to within 46-45, and consecutive layups by Marvin Baynham and Bussey gave the Eagles a 49-46 advantage.
A Trevis Simpson dunk temporarily stopped the bleeding and pulled the Spartans to within 49-48, but UNCG never regained the lead.
The Eagles led by double figures for the first time when a pair of free throw by Drayton made 66-55 with 5:31 left. UNCG twice got to within seven points, but the Eagles eventually pushed their lead to back to double figures and led by as many 16 before settling for the final score.
Simpson led UNCG with 16 points, but was just 5-of-18 from the field. He added six rebounds. Henry continued his recent surge with 14 points and four rebounds, while Kyle Randall also added 14 and David Williams chipped in with 11.
Hewitt scored 12 for Georgia Southern, and three players – Eric Ferguson, Willie Powers and Jessie Pernell – each scored 10.
The Spartans shot 41 percent from the field, including an 8-of-17 effort from three point range range. Georgia Southern shot 51 percent and was 19-of-24 from the free throw line.
UNCG returns to action when it hosts Wofford, 7 p.m., Tuesday at Greensboro Coliseum.