GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG senior center R.J. White scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Spartans held off a VMI challenge and posted a Southern Conference 74-67 win over the Keydets Saturday night at Fleming Gym.
The Spartans (22-8, 13-4 SoCon) won their sixth straight game and will play for the SoCon regular season title Monday night when they host ETSU in Greensboro.
VMI fell to 6-22 overall and into a three-way tie in conference play with Western Carolina and The Citadel with all teams holding 3-14 SoCon marks. VMI closes out the regular season Monday night at Western Carolina while The Citadel hosts Chattanooga in Charleston.
The Keydets were led in scoring by senior guard QJ Peterson who scored 22 points with 19 coming in the first half. Senior forward Trey Chapman scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds and sophomore guard Adrian Rich added 12 points.
VMI senior guard Julian Eleby labored through a scoreless night on 0-7 shooting, but grabbed 12 rebounds for his second highest rebounding game of the season and helped VMI post a 42-35 advantage on the boards.
The contest had nine ties and eight lead changes and took a turn shortly after the Keydets tied the score at 55-55 at the 8:08 mark when Chapman converted a jumper. UNCG freshman forward James Dickey hit a layup on the next Spartan possession to put the home team up for good. Back-to-back baskets by senior guard Diante Baldwin followed shortly after and a free throw by Dickey extended the UNCG lead to 68-60 with 2:37 play, but VMI cut it to four points (71-67) on a Chapman dunk with :29 left.
The Keydets went for the quick foul on the inbounds and Baldwin knocked in one of two free throws to push the margin back to five points. VMI sophomore forward Austin Vereen missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key on the next Keydet possession and White rebounded and was fouled immediately with :11 left. White drained one of two free throws to keep it a two possession game. Peterson then missed a 3-point try from the right wing and UNCG guard Francis Alonso added another free throw toss for the final margin.
VMI shot 28.1% from the floor in the second half after hitting 46.4% in the opening half. The Keydets also committed 15 turnovers that the Spartans converted into 21 points.
UNCG shot 44.1% from the floor and generated 17 assists on 26 made field goals with reserve guard Demetrius Troy dishing out a game-high six assists.
Tip off for the VMI-Western Carolina game Monday night at Ramsey Center will be 7 pm.
Here are the Monday night tiebreaker scenarios for the 8-9-10 seeds for next week’s SoCon Basketball tournament in Asheville, N.C
If VMI/The Citadel are tied at 4-14 then higher seed goes to The Citadel (split season series, both would have a win over UTC, but CIT has a win over WOF)
If WCU/The Citadel are tied at 4-14 higher seed goes to WCU via a season sweep
If VMI/The Citadel are tied at 3-15 then higher seed goes to VMI (split season series, CIT will have lost to UTC twice, VMI has a UTC win)
If WCU/The Citadel are tied at 3-15 then higher seed goes to WCU via a season sweep