UNCG grinds out fifth straight win, 65-62, to stay tied atop SoCon North
GREENSBORO, NC – In a game where both teams had more turnovers than field goals, UNC Greensboro gutted one out to defeat Georgia Southern, 65-62, in Southern Conference men’s basketball action Monday night at Fleming Gym.
The Spartans (12-9, 9-2 SoCon) forced 26 Georgia Southern turnovers to win their sixth-straight conference game and keep pace with Appalachian State atop the North Division of the conference. Appalachian State defeated College of Charleston, 67-56, at home on Monday.
Coming out of a timeout with 1:01 to play, UNCG ran the shot clock down. With five on the timer and Kyle Hines well-covered, Ricky Hickman drove and drew contact to get to the foul line. He knocked down both shots to give the Spartans a 64-62 lead.
Georgia Southern had two shots on its initial possession, but UNCG couldn’t control the loose ball after the second shot and the Eagles got possession in front of their bench with 16.1 seconds left. Donte Gennie tried to drive the right side of the lane off of a ball screen at the top of the key with six seconds left. But Hickman reached in for a deflection and Kevin Oleksiak came up with the loose ball. Hickman was then fouled after Oleksiak flipped the ball back to him.
Hickman, a senior from Winston-Salem, NC, made the first, but missed the second to leave the door open ever so slightly as Georgia Southern called timeout with 1.2 seconds left. However, the length of the court pass went out of bounds and UNCG was able to run out the remaining clock.
Hines led the way for UNCG with a game-high 20 points and eight rebounds. Hines, the leading scorer in the Southern Conference at better than 21 points per contest, extended his streak to 42 straight games in double figures and recorded his 30t h career 20-point game, including 12 this season.
Hickman added 15 points, five rebounds, four steals and four assists, while Oleksiak scored 10 points, all of them in the first half.
Georgia Southern (10-11, 3-7) had four players in double figures, led by Gennie’s 12 points. Louis Graham had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, his ninth of the season to tie Hines for the league lead.
UNCG didn’t help its cause at the free throw line, although it was there often. The Spartans were 26-of-40 from the foul line for the night, but made three big ones in the final 36 seconds to give UNCG its fifth-straight win overall. Despite UNCG going to the free throw line 26 more times that the Eagles, 40-14, overall fouls were relatively close, 23-18.
UNCG made just 17 field goals and committed 18 turnovers, while Georgia Southern had 25 field goals, but turned the ball over 26 times.
For much of the night, the teams had to have a feeling of déjà vu as the game had an almost identical feel of the game that was played four weeks earlier in Statesboro.
The Spartans got off to a slow start, making just two field goals in the first eight minutes. But 7-of-10 at the free throw line kept the Spartans within striking distance at 14-11. The Eagles, however, got hot and made five shots in a row to spark a 13-4 run and open up a nine-point lead, 32-23, with six minutes to play in the opening half.
UNCG ran off eight of the next nine to cut the margin to two late in the half. After a drive down the lane by Oleksiak just beat the buzzer, UNCG trailed by just one at the break, 38-37, despite Georgia Southern shooting 55 percent from the floor in the half.
The start of the second half was more of the same as the Eagles continued to shoot the ball well, but turned the ball over. Meanwhile, UNCG looked out of sync offensively, but got to the free throw line and was able to take advantage of some of the turnovers to stay in striking distance.
UNCG buckled down midway through the second half, however. UNCG held Georgia Southern to just three points over a nearly eight-minute span, leading to a 13-3 Spartan run. Ben Stywall gave UNCG a 51-50 lead with two free throws. After Gerogia Southern’s 22nd turnover of the night, Gennie was called for an intentional foul when Hickman drove to the basket. Hickman converted both free throws to give the Spartans a three-point lead with 8:26 to play, their first lead since 8-6.
The game became a see-saw affair from there. Mikko Koivisto made his first field goal of the night a big one, a three-pointer from the left corner to give UNCG a 62-58 lead with three minutes to play. Graham scored on the other end to cut the margin to two. After a UNCG miss, Salazar scored on a tip-in to tie the game with 1:49 to play.
Koivisto missed a three-pointer on the next possession, but chased down his own rebound to give the Spartans a new shot clock and set the stage for the thrilling final minute.
SIDELINES: After combining to score UNCG’s last 40 points in Saturday’s win over Furman, Ricky Hickman and Kyle Hines combined to score UNCG’s first 13 points on Monday. If you take the final 23:33 of the Saturday game and add it to Monday, they were the only two Spartans to score over a span of 33:02... UNCG has now won eight in a row when committing fewer turnovers than the opposition... The 26 turnovers were the most forced by the Spartans this season... Kendall Toney’s streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer ended Monday at 12 straight, tied for the eighth longest streak in school history... UNCG will learn its February 17 opponent in the BracketBusters series on Tuesday afternoon. The Spartans, with an RPI of 199 entering play on Monday, were not among the 28 teams selected for the main bracket’s television games, which were announced on Monday.
UNCG 65, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 62
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (10-11, 3-7)
GENNIE, Donte 5-13 1-1 12; GRAHAM, Louis 3-7 5-8 11; TOBIAS, Jimmy 5-10 0-1 10; FOREMAN, Dwayne 4-6 0-0 10; SALAZAR, Diogo 4-6 0-0 8; JOHNSON, Antoine 2-6 2-2 6; FIELDS, Matt 1-4 0-0 2; HYNES, Ryan 1-1 0-0 2; MARSHALL, Anthony 0-0 1-2 1; THOMPSON, Blake 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-53 9-14 62.
UNCG (12-9, 9-2)
HINES, Kyle 6-11 8-12 20; HICKMAN, Ricky 3-14 9-14 15; OLEKSIAK, Kevin 3-6 2-4 10; TOOMS, Bart 2-2 2-2 8; STYWALL, Ben 1-3 2-4 4; KOIVISTO, Mikko 1-2 0-0 3; AKINOSHO, Matt 1-2 1-2 3; JOHNSON, Dwayne 0-2 2-2 2; BROWN, Pete 0-0 0-0 0; TONEY, Kendall 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 26-40 65.
Halftime: Georgia Southern 38-37. 3-point goals--Georgia Southern 3-8 (FOREMAN, Dwayne 2-3; GENNIE, Donte 1-4; GRAHAM, Louis 0-1), UNCG 5-19 (OLEKSIAK, Kevin 2-3; TOOMS, Bart 2-2; KOIVISTO, Mikko 1-2; JOHNSON, Dwayne 0-1; TONEY, Kendall 0-1; STYWALL, Ben 0-1; HICKMAN, Ricky 0-8; HINES, Kyle 0-1). Fouled out—Georgia Southern-None, UNCG-None. Rebounds--Georgia Southern 37 (GRAHAM, Louis 13), UNCG 29 (HINES, Kyle 8). Assists--Georgia Southern 13 (TOBIAS, Jimmy 3; FOREMAN, Dwayne 3), UNCG 10 (JOHNSON, Dwayne 4; HICKMAN, Ricky 4). Total fouls--Georgia Southern 23, UNCG 18. Technical fouls--Georgia Southern-None, UNCG-None. A-1065
- UNCG -