Koivisto's career-night not enough as Kent State holds off rally
GREENSBORO, NC – Kent State shot 55 percent from the floor and had four players in double figures as the Golden Flashes held off a late charge to beat UNC Greensboro, 71-64, in front of a capacity crowd at Fleming Gym on Saturday night.
Mikko Koivisto led all scorers with a career-high 22 points for UNCG (3-2). Mike Scott led Kent State with 15 points, while Haminn Quaintance had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
UNCG’s All-American candidate Kyle Hines finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, extending his nation’s longest double-figure scoring streak to 55 straight games. Hines spent most of the night in foul trouble, picking up two quick fouls midway through the first half and a third with 2:38 to play before intermission. The senior from Sicklerville, NJ also struggled at the free throw line, shooting just 4-for-9 from the stripe.
Kent State (6-2) opened the second half on a 13-2 run that erased a first-half that saw UNCG lead throughout the 20 minutes. The Spartans scored just one basket in the first seven minutes of the second half. In fact, UNCG missed 10 of its first 11 shots from the floor in the second half.
However, a crazy sequence got the Spartans back into with a little over two minutes to play. Quaintance dunked to give Kent State what looked to be a comfortable nine-point lead. But Quaintance was called for a technical foul – his fourth personal – when he hung on the rim. Koivisto sunk the two free throws and then Ben Stywall converted a conventional three-point play to cut the Kent State lead to 65-61 with 2:16 to play.
After a Kent State turnover, Kevin Oleksiak converted one of two at the foul line to make it a three-point game with 1:55 left. UNCG looked to have another turnover on the next possession, but a loose ball wound up in the hands of Mike Scott underneath the basket for an easy lay-up.
Hines countered on the next possession for UNCG to take it back to a one possession game with 1:12 left. He then fouled Scott on the next possession, who knocked down both free throws and Koivisto missed on the Spartans’ next possession.
“We got some open looks early on – myself, Kevin (Oleksiak) and Kendall (Toney),” said Koivisto, who has now made a three-pointer in 15 consecutive games. “In the second half, though, they started trailing our shooters more and we weren’t getting as many open looks at the basket on the perimeter.”
The Spartans came out of the gates red hot. UNCG, which connected on 12 three-pointers in its win over USC Upstate in the last outing, knocked down three-pointers on its first three possessions, two by Koivisto and a third by Oleksiak to open up a 9-0 lead and force a Kent State timeout just 1:54 into the game.
The Golden Flashes recovered to pull within two with a pivotal three-point play. Hines’ picked up his second foul at 12:57, both fouls within 40 seconds of each other. The conventional three-point play by Julian Sullinger sent Hines to the bench and pulled Kent State back to just a 14-12 deficit.
Hines came back twice after that, but picked up a costly third foul with 2:28 left in the first half when he came over the top of a Golden Flash on an offensive rebound. He finished the first half with just four points on 2-of-4 shooting from the floor.
That, however, caused the Spartans to get out of sync offensively. After Hines’ third foul, the Spartans shot just 9-for-31 from the floor the rest of the night.
Despite that, however, the Spartans managed to go into the intermission clinging to a one-point lead, 34-33, behind Koivisto’s 14 first-half points. However, the sophomore from Vantaa, Finland would not score again until the 8:17 mark of the second half.
The Golden Flashes scored the first nine points of the second half, grabbing their first lead of the night and taking control. On the opening possession of the second half, Scott’s bucket in the paint made it 35-34 and Rodriquez Sherman followed with a three from the left corner to give Kent State a four-point advantage. It wasn’t until a Hines put back at 16:34 that UNCG got on the board in the second half.
In fact, after Hines’ third foul, the Spartans missed 16 of their next 19 shots from the floor to dig themselves a hole that they couldn’t quite get out of. UNCG also didn’t help its cause at the free throw line, shooting just 13-for-24 from the charity stripe.
UNCG returns to action on Tuesday night when it visits Virginia Tech for a 7 pm match-up.
FREE THROWS: After his near-record breaking performance last Saturday against USC Upstate, it was a complete-reverse for Kendall Toney on Saturday night. Toney shot just 1-for-10 from the field, including 1-for-8 from three-point range. Toney, the SoCon’s top three-point shooter last season, entered the game shooting 62 percent from behind the arc this season... Outside of Koivisto’s 6-for-12 from three-point range, the rest of the Spartans shot just 3-for-17 from behind the arc on Saturday. The Spartans entered Saturday’s game No. 23 in the nation in three-point field goal percentage as a team at 42.5 percent... UNCG is now 3-0 when scoring 30 or more points in the paint, but 0-2 when being held to 20 or less. The Spartans had 20 points in the paint on Saturday... The game was a reunion of sorts for Kyle Hines and Kent State’s Al Fisher. The duo played AAU basketball together back in southern New Jersey... Hines now has 810 career rebounds, 49 shy of second place at UNCG (Eric Cuthrell from 1992-96). His career point total now stands at 1680... UNCG had won 32 its last 34 non-conference home games prior to Saturday night. The Spartans had also won 10 of their last 11 at home overall.
KENT STATE 71, UNCG 64
KENT STATE (6-2)
Mike Scott 6-11 3-3 15; Rodriquez Sherman 5-11 2-3 14; Haminn Quaintance 6-9 1-4 13; Julian Sullinger 4-5 3-3 11; Al Fisher 4-8 0-1 9; Mike Mckee 2-6 0-0 6; Chris Singletary 1-1 0-0 2; Jordan Mincy 0-0 1-4 1; Isaac Knight 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-51 10-18 71.
Mikko Koivisto 7-14 2-2 22; Kyle Hines 5-10 4-9 14; Kevin Oleksiak 4-9 2-5 12; Ben Stywall 3-7 3-6 9; Dwayne Johnson 1-3 2-2 4; Kendall Toney 1-10 0-0 3; Darrius Sellers 0-2 0-0 0; Landon Clement 0-0 0-0 0; Daniel Oliver 0-1 0-0 0; Pete Brown 0-1 0-0 0; Davor Galic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 13-24 64.
Halftime: UNCG 34-33. 3-point goals--Kent State 5-18 (Rodriquez Sherman 2-6; Mike Mckee 2-6; Al Fisher 1-3; Mike Scott 0-3), UNCG 9-29 (Mikko Koivisto 6-12; Kevin Oleksiak 2-5; Kendall Toney 1-8; Dwayne Johnson 0-2; Daniel Oliver 0-1; Ben Stywall 0-1). Fouled out--Kent State-None, UNCG-Kyle Hines. Rebounds--Kent State 38 (Haminn Quaintance 10), UNCG 35 (Kyle Hines 9). Assists--Kent State 17 (Al Fisher 5), UNCG 9 (Dwayne Johnson 4). Total fouls--Kent State 23, UNCG 20. Technical fouls--Kent State-Haminn Quaintance, UNCG-None. A-1831 (sellout)
- UNCG -