UNC Greensboro came into Saturday night’s game against the College of Charleston with the most prolific offense in the Southern Conference and the league’s leading scorer in Trevis Simpson.
Andrew Lawrence scored 17 points to lead five players in double figures as the College of Charleston (16-7, 8-2 SoCon) defeated UNCG, 81-59, before a crowd of 4,369 at TD Arena to win its fourth straight.
The Spartans (6-15, 4-6) came into the game averaging a league-high 72.5 points a game, while Simpson was scoring 19.9 points per contest. Greensboro’s 59 points was the second-lowest point output of the season for the Spartans, who shot a season-low 32.7 percent from the floor. Simpson didn’t fare much better. The 6-5 junior, who was averaging more than 20 shots per game, was limited to 12 shots and just 15 points.
The job of stopping Simpson fell to sophomore guard Anthony Stitt and Nori Johnson, who hounded the Spartan forward all over the floor.
“Anthony and Nori did a phenomenal job on Simpson,” College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik said. “Simpson has been getting 24 or 25 shots off every game. He had only 12 tonight and I think that’s because Anthony and Nori were around him, or near him, so it was tough for him to get his shots off. It was just a great job by those guys.”
Stitt said the strategy against Simpson simple — don’t let him touch the ball and when he did get it, don’t let him have any open space to work with.
“We wanted to be in (Simpson) face all night,” said Stitt, who finished with 10 points and four assists. “We wanted to be a little pest to him all game. I think we did a good job tonight of staying up on him and not letting him get any room to work with.”
Three-point shooting also played a huge role in the outcome of the game. The Cougars were 10 of 21 from three-point range, while the Spartans made just two of 14 attempts. The Cougars continue to be among the nation’s leaders in 3-point defense, as teams are shooting only 28.0 from 3 for the season.
“It’s something we work on in practice,” said Lawrence, who had six assists to go along with his 17 points. “I think we contested every one of their 3-point shots and it’s tough to make those shots with a hand in your face.”
Trent Wiedeman and Willis Hall combined for 26 points and 21 rebounds from their power forward position. Wiedeman had his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Hall had 12 points and nine rebounds.
“Those guys did a great job tonight,” Lawrence said. “Willis always gives us energy. He made a couple of great hustle plays for us when we needed it. When those guys are playing like that we’re a tough team to beat.”
The Cougars got off to another quick start, taking a 23-9 lead on Wiedeman’s reverse layup with 10:01 to play.
Lawrence gave the Cougars their biggest lead of the first half, 18 points, with three minutes to play, but Greensboro had a brief run to close to gap to 37-24 at halftime.
The Spartans scored a couple of quick baskets to start the second half, Derrell Armstrong’s driving layup pulled UNCG to 39-28 with 18:13 to play, which forced Wojcik to call a quick timeout.
But that’s as close as the Spartans were get the rest of the way. The Cougars went on a 9-0 run after Wojcik’s timeout and pushed their lead to 50-34 on Lawrence’s layup with 14:01 to play.
“It was a really good team win,” Wojcik said. “We shot the three well, we really got after it on the glass and we took care of the basketball. That’s a pretty formula for winning.”
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