GREENSBORO, N.C. - UNCG rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit to take a four-point lead late, but Virginia Tech out-scored the Spartans 23-10 over the final six minutes to walk away with a 96-87 victory Monday night at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Hokies remain undefeated at 4-0 while the Blue and Gold falls to 1-3.
"This is a really been a tough week for us as we played really well at East Carolina and did a lot of good things here tonight, but we weren't able to come out with a win in either game," head coach Wes Miller said., "If we keep taking steps in the right direction, things will work out for us in the end. We have to stay together and keep fighting trying to get better each and every day."
Junior guard Trevis Simpson (Douglas, Ga./Coffee) came up just one point shy of his season-high, netting 25 on the strength of 10 field goals - three of which came from beyond the arc. Senior guard Derrell Armstrong (Mechanicsville, Md./Allegany CC) did set a new season best in points, tossing in 23 and hitting four field goals from three-point range. Additionally, posting the game's only double-double was fifth-year senior forward Kelvin McNeil (Newport News, Va./Delaware) who recorded career highs of 12 points and 12 rebounds
The Hokies enjoyed a distinct advantage at the free throw line, nailing 34 of their 42 attempts while limiting UNCG to just 17 tries of which the Spartans hit 12. Virginia Tech out-shot the home team from the field .453 to .427 and knocked down 14 three-pointers on 22 attempts, a staggering 63.6 percent from long range. The Hokies also won the battle of the boards, racking up 41 rebounds to UNCG's 38.
Jarell Eddie paced three Hokies in double figures with a game-high 28 points as he was 7-of-9 from the field, 5-of-5 from three-point land and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Erick Green added 26 points, mostly from the free throw line as he hit 16 out of 16 from the charity stripe.
Virginia Tech came out of the gate hitting from deep as it connected on four of its first seven three-point shots, jumping out to a 23-9 lead just seven minutes into the game. Will Johnston came off the bench and hit three straight from long range to ignite the Hokies.
UNCG settled in and posted a 17-2 run, including 13 straight points, to take its first lead of the night at 33-32. McNeil provided the spark for the Spartans as he scored six straight points in the run while Armstrong started to heat up scoring seven points in the stretch. Freshman forward Kayel Locke (Owings Mill, Md./McDonogh) put the Spartans in front 33-32 as he scored on an offensive rebound after a missed free throw.
Virginia Tech answered back with a 10-2 run to extend the lead to 42-35 but UNCG did not back down as the Spartans narrowed the deficit to 42-41 as McNeil scored his eighth point of the night on a basket in the paint. The Hokies went into the locker room with a 45-41 lead as Jarell Eddie hit at three-pointer at the buzzer giving Virginia Tech a four-point lead.
The Spartans connected on 43.2 percent (16-of-37) from the field and 31.3 (5-of-16) from three-point land in the first half. Armstrong led the team with 11 points off the bench as he was 4-of-8 from the field while McNeil added eight points. Virginia Tech connected on 48.4 percent (15-of-31) from the field and hit an impressive 61.5 percent (8-of-13) from the three-point land in the opening frame. Eddie led all scorers with 13 points as he was 4-of-5 from the field, including three three-pointers.
Virginia Tech came out of the halftime break and continued to hit from the outside as it extended its lead to 65-51 thanks to the three-ball. The Spartans showed their mettle though as they started to claw back into the game, posting a 26-8 run to take a 77-73 lead.
Armstrong and sophomore Nicholas Paulos (Salt Lake City, Utah/New Hampton School) started the run with back-to-back three-pointers while senior Korey Van Dussen (Zeeland, Mich./Zeeland East) scored back-to-back baskets to make it a six-point game at 69-63.
Simpson took over at that point, scoring 12 of the Spartans' next 14 points to give UNCG a 77-73 lead. Simpson started his spurt with consecutive three-pointers which got him going as he single-handedly brought the Spartans into the lead.
Virginia Tech weathered the UNCG storm and responded with 10 straight points to retake the lead for good. Green scored six points during the stretch while the biggest basket arguable came from Eddie who drained a three-pointer to extend the lead back to six at 83-77. The Hokies iced the game at the free throw line as they 13 of their last 16 from the charity stripe in the final 2:55 of the game.
Van Dussen added 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting for the Spartans while Locke finished with six points and seven rebounds.
The Spartans will be off until after Thanksgiving as they return to action Sunday afternoon in their second of four straight home games as they host Big East member Rutgers. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum.
UNCG Sports Information Dept.