GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Virginia Tech tandem of Erick Green and Jarell Eddie each registered career highs and spearheaded a 14-1 run late in the game that helped the Hokies to a 96-87 nonconference victory over UNCG on Monday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
With the win, the Hokies moved to 4-0 overall, winning their first four games for the first time since the 2004-05 season. UNCG fell to 1-3 overall and lost to the Hokies for the eighth consecutive time.
“We grew up. We grew up tonight,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “We took a step forward. We hadn’t seen adversity like that in the three previous games, and we were on the road against a very good team. For those guys to keep their composure and to keep fighting and to execute down the stretch and make big free throws, I’m pretty pleased with that.”
UNCG trailed by as many as 14 in the first half and by eight with less than 10 minutes to play. But the Spartans used a 14-2 run to take a 77-73 lead, grabbing their biggest lead on a basket by Trevis Simpson with 6:08 left in the game. Simpson scored 12 of the 14 points in the run and finished with 25 points.
But the Hokies responded. Green, who had been quiet in the second half, scored with 5:49 remaining to start a 14-1 run. He scored 10 of the 14 points in that run, and his two free throws with 1:22 left gave the Hokies an 87-78 lead.
UNCG cut the lead to four on a basket by Simpson with 54 seconds left, but the Hokies’ free-throw shooting down the stretch was just too good. Tech made 18 of its final 22 free-throw attempts and shot 81 percent from the line for the game.
Green went 12 of 12 from the free-throw line in the final 4:18. He made all 16 of his attempts for the game, which carried his performance on a night in which he made just 4 of 15 shots.
“Me and Jarell, as leaders, we had to take over the game,” Green said. “We hit our free throws and got the team together, and they rallied around us. We came together, thank goodness, because it was a dogfight to the end. I give UNCG a lot of credit. They’re a good team.
Eddie and Green combined to score 25 of the Hokies’ final 26 points. Eddie scored a game-high 28 points, hitting 7 of 9 from the floor and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line. He nailed all five of his 3-point attempts.
As a team, the Hokies hit 14 of 22 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“If it’s falling for us, we’re going to take the shot,” Eddie said. “Coach tells us to take the first available good shot. A lot of the time, that’s the 3, and guys are confident in their ability. Sometimes, we’ll make 14, and sometimes, we might not make double digits. But this year, we’re shooting the ball well, and we’ve got guys capable of making them.”
UNCG stayed in the game with its 3-point shooting, as the Spartans hit 11 of 35 from beyond the arc. Derrell Armstrong added 23 for the Spartans.
The game turned out to be historic for Johnson, who became the first Tech coach to win his first four games in his inaugural season as the Hokies’ coach since Bill Matthews went 4-0 to start the 1962-63 season.
The Hokies return home for their next game, as they prepare for a nonconference tilt against Appalachian State on Friday. Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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