BRONX, NY – A 14-1 run in the middle of the game and Kyle Hines’ 36th career double-double lifted UNC Greensboro to a 58-54 win over Fordham at historic Rose Hill Gymnasium on Saturday.
The game featured a match-up of two of the top senior class big men in the country in UNCG’s All-America candidate Hines and Fordham’s Bryant Dunston. Both have more than 1500 points, 700 rebounds, 200 blocks and 25 double-doubles on their career ledgers. Both players had to fight through foul trouble, however, on Saturday.
Despite shooting just 2-for-8 from the charity stripe, Hines finished with a game-high 18 points, his 59th straight game in double figures which extended the nation’s longest streak. It was the 91st time in 98 career games that he has scored 10 or more points. He also added 10 rebounds to complete his fifth double-double on the season.
Dunston finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for Fordham (5-5). The Rams were led by Brenton Butler’s 15 points, but he shot just 5-of-17 from the floor.
Kevin Oleksiak added 11 points for UNCG (5-4), including a key drive down the lane with just under two minutes to play and a free throw with eight seconds left to ice it.
“Everyone played well and we needed them all in this one,” said UNCG coach Mike Dement, who picked up career win No. 293. “I thought Oleksiak made some great plays down the stretch, including that rebound right there at the end. We got a big lift from Pete Brown defensively, too, with Kyle in foul trouble.”
UNCG opened up a five-point lead, 15-10, midway through the first half with an 8-0 run, capped off by a Kendall Toney three-pointer from the top of the arc. In fact, the Spartans wound up holding Fordham without a field goal for a span of more than nine minutes, with the Rams missing nine in row from the floor during that slump.
UNCG held that lead until Butler’s NBA-range three-pointer with four minutes left in the half gave the Rams a 23-22 advantage. The trey gave Butler 10 points in the half and the Rams their first lead since four minutes into the contest. The Rams turned up their defense, holding the Spartans to just two field goals over a four-minute span late in the half.
With 13 first-half turnovers by the Spartans, it looked like that lead might hold up into the intermission. However, Davor Galic scored on a backdoor cut with 12.8 seconds left before halftime and turned it into a conventional three-point play to give UNCG a 30-28 lead at the break. That began a 14-1 burst for the Spartans that forged the first double-digit lead of the game for either team and would be a lead that UNCG would keep the rest of the afternoon.
The Spartans opened up the second half with the first five buckets to open up their largest lead to that point, 41-29, with 16:30 to play. The Spartans then suffered a nearly five-minute scoring drought and the Rams whittled the lead back down to five and Hines picked up his fourth foul with 10:48 to play.
The Spartans held strong for a while, however, as Fordham couldn’t get closer than five until the 4:41 mark. With Hines doing situational substitutions, the Rams had several chances to get the lead under five. Finally, Sebastian Greene’s drive down the left side cut the margin to 52-49.
Dunston made a one of two free throws with 2:23 to play to cut it to 54-52. But Oleksiak countered with a drive to the basket for a conventional three-point play to put the Spartans back up by five with 1:57 left.
Fordham cut the deficit back to three with a pair of free throws by Greene with 1:01 to play. With the shot clock running down, Oleksiak missed a jumper with 27 seconds left and the Rams grabbed the rebound. Fordham called its last timeout with 16.3 seconds left. But Butler missed a three-pointer with eight seconds left and Oleksiak grabbed the rebound and was fouled. A career 77 percent free throw shooter, the senior from Abington, PA missed the first but made the second to put the game away.
After struggling from the three-point arc as of late, the Spartans did a better job on the perimeter on Saturday. UNCG, which came in shooting 18 percent from three in its last seven halves of basketball, went 5-for-12 from behind the arc against Fordham. UNCG also had a 39-25 advantage on the glass, including 14 offensive rebounds.
The Spartans return to action after the Christmas holiday on December 29 when they visit UNC Wilmington for a 7 pm tip.
FREE THROWS: In front of a sparse crowd at Fordham, it almost became a home game for the Spartans. Bolstered by friends and family from locals Kyle Hines, Kevin Oleksiak, Dwayne Johnson and Pete Brown, UNCG nearly had more fans than the Rams because of semester break and the holiday shopping season... The game was UNCG’s first against an Atlantic 10 foe since Dec. 9, 1996, when the Spartans took on then-conference member Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA... UNCG was the second SoCon foe to face Fordham this season. College of Charleston faced the Rams back on Nov. 24 and came away with a 73-68 win at Rose Hill Gym. Fordham is now 1-4 all-time against SoCon teams... UNCG is above .500 at Christmas for the third time in four years... Rose Hill Gym is the oldest gym in Division I. The facility opened back on Jan. 16, 1925.
UNCG 58, Fordham 54
Kyle Hines 8-14 2-8 18; Kevin Oleksiak 4-10 2-3 11; Dwayne Johnson 2-6 4-6 9; Mikko Koivisto 3-8 0-0 8; Kendall Toney 1-2 2-2 5; Davor Galic 1-2 1-1 3; Ben Stywall 1-1 0-0 2; Daniel Oliver 0-1 2-2 2; Pete Brown 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-44 13-22 58.
Brenton Butler 5-17 1-2 15; Bryant Dunston 3-7 4-6 10; Sebastian Greene 3-5 2-2 8; Mike Moore 3-8 0-0 8; Marcus Stout 2-8 0-0 5; Kevin Anderson 0-1 3-4 3; Michael Binns 1-1 1-1 3; Chris Bethel 1-2 0-2 2; Herb Tanner 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-50 11-17 54.
Halftime: UNCG 30-28. 3-point goals--UNCG 5-12 (Mikko Koivisto 2-5; Kendall Toney 1-2; Dwayne Johnson 1-2; Kevin Oleksiak 1-2; Daniel Oliver 0-1), Fordham 7-22 (Brenton Butler 4-12; Mike Moore 2-4; Marcus Stout 1-5; Sebastian Greene 0-1). Fouled out--UNCG-Ben Stywall, Fordham-None. Rebounds--UNCG 39 (Kyle Hines 10), Fordham 25 (Bryant Dunston 9). Assists--UNCG 16 (Kevin Oleksiak 6), Fordham 11 (Kevin Anderson 4). Total fouls--UNCG 21, Fordham 19. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Fordham-None. Attendance: n/a
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