GREENSBORO, N.C. – Junior guard Trevis Simpson (Douglas, Ga./Coffee) led three Spartans in double figures with 19 points as the UNCG men's basketball team picked up a 71-52 victory over Wofford Wednesday night at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans used a 15-3 run closing out the first half to take the lead for good on their way to the 19-point Southern Conference victory.
"I was really proud of our guys' effort tonight," head coach Wes Miller said. "What I was most proud of was the way we played as a team -- active as a team which was a big step for this bunch. We are not quite as bad as our record, we just needed something good to happen to us and I hope tonight is that good thing."
Senior guard Derrell Armstrong (Mechanicsville, Md./Allegany CC) and fifth-year senior forward Kelvin McNeil (Newport News, Va./Delaware) also netted double-digit points with 16 and 13 respectively, with Armstrong just missing a double-double, pulling down a team-high nine rebounds.
"I was proud of the way we talked and communicated on defense," Miller said. "I thought Trevis stepped up as a leader and set the tone vocally for us. Kelvin McNeil and Taylor Hoffer came off the bench and sustained that communication and leadership, which gave us something we haven't had this year with the leadership on the floor. It was no question, our best defensive effort of the year tonight."
McNeil connected on 7-of-9 from the charity stripe and hit all three field goals in the victory and grabbed six rebounds. UNCG dominated the glass, racking up 43 rebounds – including 14 offensive boards – while limiting Wofford to 25 caroms.
"We were desperate to get that 'W' and we were focused to make it happen tonight," McNeil said. "Trevis set the example for us as he was in a stance the entire time, on every single possession. He was talking and guarding the best player on their team, which set the tone for us in the second half.
After firing at a 50-percent clip from the field in the first half, the Spartans ended up at 44 percent for the game, knocking down 22 of their 50 attempts. Conversely, the Terriers were held to a 36.5 percent performance (19-for-52). UNCG totaled 11 steals in the process of forcing 17 Wofford turnovers and netted 21 points off those miscues.
The Spartans came out of the gate and played with intensity on the both ends of the floor from the tip-off. UNCG opened to a 26-20 lead as freshman forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) converted an old-fashioned three-point play. Wofford continued to battle as it pulled within one at 28-27 as Karl Cochran scored on a drive to narrow the gap to one.
UNCG put distance between it and Wofford over the final 5:40 of the first half as the Spartans posted a 15-3 run to close out the frame and enter the locker room with a 43-30 lead. Simpson ignited the run as he scored the first five points of the spurt in a 25-second span. McNeil scored five points in the run, including capping it with a three-point play with 22 second left in the half to extend the lead to 13 points.
The Spartans connected on 50 percent (16-of-32) from the field in the first half and hit 80 percent (8-of-10) from the charity stripe. UNCG also held a 23-15 edge on the glass as it out-scored the Terriers 16-8 in the paint. Simpson led all scorers in the first half with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting while Armstrong added eight points.
Wofford was held to 35.5 percent (11-of-31) shooting from the field in the first half and only went to the free throw line twice in 20 minutes. Cochran led the Terriers with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including three three-pointers, while John Swinton added eight points.
The Spartans came out in the second half and continued to dictate the pace of the game as they kept Wofford in a double-digit hole. The Terriers pulled back within 11 points at 57-46 with Aerris Smith converted a three-point play with 7:59 left, but the Spartans ended any doubt with a 10-1 run to extend the lead to 20 points at 67-47.
Freshman guard Jordan Potts (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) started the run by hitting a pair of free throws while Simpson scored four points in the stretch before McNeil and Armstrong added two points apiece to put away any doubt of the victory. The Spartans controlled the play in the second half as they held a 20-10 edge on the glass to limit the Terriers' possessions.
Locke finished the game just shy of a double-double in his third straight start as he scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds. Simpson finished the game shooting 7-of-14 from the field, including 3-of-5 from long range. The Spartans went to the free throw line 31 times in the contest, connecting on 74.2 percent, while the Terriers attempted just 13 free throws in the loss.
Wofford was led by Spencer Collins who scored 12 points, despite hitting just 1-of-5 from three-point land. Cochran was held to 11 points on just 4-of-11 shooting while Swinton chipped in eight points in the loss.
The Spartans continue their five-game home stand Sunday afternoon as they host Furman in SoCon action. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum.
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