BOONE, N.C. – The UNCG men's basketball team saw its seven-point halftime lead overcome in the second half as the Spartans dropped an 83-70 Southern Conference contest to hosting Appalachian State Monday night at the Holmes Center. Appalachian State opened the second half on an 18-2 run and out-scored the Spartans 51-31 in the second half.
"Give a lot of credit to Appalachian State," head coach Wes Miller said. "They came out in the second half with a lot of energy and outplayed us. They took us out of the things we wanted to do offensively and had their way with us when they had the ball. We were a completely different team in the second half from the first half and the credit goes to Appalachian State as they played with great energy in the half."
UNCG connected on just 38.5 percent (10-of-26) from the field in the second half, including missing its first seven shots of the frame. Conversely, the Mountaineers connected on 62.5 percent (15-of-24) from the field and 80 percent (20-of-25) from the free throw line in the second half to quickly erase the Spartans' seven-point lead.
Junior Trevis Simpson (Douglas, Ga./Coffee) returned from a concussion and scored 22 points off the bench on 9-19 shooting from the field. Senior guard Derrell Armstrong (Mechanicsville, Md./Allegany CC) continued his strong play as he added 20 points and seven rebounds in the loss. Appalachian State was led by Nathan Healy who scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Mike Neal added 19 points as he was 9-of-11 from the charity stripe.
UNCG started quickly as Armstrong scored five early points to give the Spartans a 7-2 lead. UNCG kept its early offense going as it posted an 11-2 run to take a 13-5 lead as Armstrong hit two three-pointers and sophomore Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) added a long-range shot to make it three in a row for the Spartans.
Appalachian State started to cut into the UNCG lead as Nathan Healy nine of 11 points in a stretch for the Mountaineers as they pulled within two at 21-19. The Spartans responded back with an 11-4 run to take a 32-23 lead as they continued to hit from the outside. Simpson started the spurt with a three-pointer before Paulos and Armstrong added distance shots to extend the lead to nine points.
Appalachian State narrowed the gap to five points in the final 10 seconds but fifth-year senior Kelvin McNeil (Newport News, Va./Delaware) scored a second-chance point at the buzzer to send UNCG into the locker room with a 39-32 lead. The Spartans connected on 46.4 percent (13-of-28) from the field in the first half and hit 6-of-12 (50%) from long range.
"Our first half defensive energy was fantastic," Miller said. "We had five guys on the floor that we playing together, communicating and pursued the ball very well. We were really in the game, playing together which fueled things offensively."
Armstrong continued his strong play of late as he scored 13 first half points on 5-of-9 shooting, including three three-pointers. Freshman forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) added six points while Simpson and Paulos each chipped in five points to pace the attack. Appalachian State connected on just 30.3 percent (10-of-33) from the field and 33.3 percent (4-of-12) from long range in the first half. Healy led the way for ASU with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting while Jay Canty chipped in seven points.
Appalachian State opened the second half scoring the first 13 points of the half on its way to an 18-2 run to turn a seven-point deficit into a nine-point lead in less than eight minutes of play. Neal was the spark for the Mountaineers scoring six points while Tab Hamilton hit a three-pointer to give ASU its first lead of the second half. Appalachian State took the lead into double figures and never relented down the stretch.
The Mountaineers continued to dominate play in the second half as they out-scored the Spartans by 20 points, 51-31. Appalachian State shot 43.9 percent (25-of-57) from the field on the game and 33.3 percent (5-of-15) from distance. UNCG connected on just 42.6 percent (23-of-54) from the field, 31.6 percent (6-of-19) from long range and 69.2 percent (18-of-26) from the charity stripe.
The Spartans return home to the Greensboro Coliseum Wednesday night as they begin a five-game home stretch to close out the month of January as they host SoCon foe Wofford at 7 p.m.
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