GREENSBORO, NC – In their final game at Fleming Gym, Kyle Hines had 17 points and eight rebounds and Kevin Oleksiak added 14 points, including the 1,000th of his career, as UNC Greensboro fought past Western Carolina, 60-55.
Oleksiak became the 16th player in school history to top the 1,000-point mark for a career. The senior from Abington, PA now has 1,003 as a Spartan. He also added five rebounds.
“I guess it is full circle,” said Oleksiak afterwards. “I got my first point here and I got my last point here. And all of my family was here to see both. If I hadn’t gotten it tonight, it would be okay, though. I just wanted to leave here with a victory in my last home game.”
Hines, a senior from Sicklerville, NJ, recorded his 79t h straight game in double figures and also logged four steals and three blocked shots in 34 minutes of action. He scored 11 of his 17 in the second half as UNCG rallied from a four-point halftime deficit and an ugly offensive start.
Western Carolina (10-20, 6-14) got a game-high 19 points by Jake Robinson to lead three Catamounts in double figures. Arnold Core added 12 points and Richie Gordon chipped in with 11. The Catamounts hung around in their Princeton-style offense with 16 offensive rebounds that translated into 22 second-chance points.
“This was probably a good game for us to have right now,” said UNCG coach Mike Dement, whose team won its fourth straight and fifth in the last six games. “We’ve won a couple of games here as of late by bigger margins and haven’t been in one of these where you value each possession and have to make free throws down the stretch. That’s what the tournament is going to be like next week. We have to be prepared for just that kind of game.”
UNCG (18-11, 12-8), the No. 5 seed, will open the Southern Conference Tournament in North Charleston, SC on Saturday at approximately 4:15 pm against fourth-seeded Appalachian State. The Mountaineers won in Boone by 23 and UNCG won at Fleming by 24 during the regular season.
“Western Carolina is a tough team,” said Hines, who now has 2,157 points and 1,030 rebounds for his career. “They are very physical. They are going to give someone problems in the tournament this week. I don’t know that I would want to play them. They really make you work for everything.”
A shorthanded Western Carolina team, playing without leading scorer Brandon Giles, came out with the clear intention of slowing the tempo down and turning it into a half-court game. UNCG, which had gotten off to quick starts in six of their last seven home games, went the first 7:50 without a basket. The Spartans missed their first seven shots and had five turnovers during the span as Western Carolina opened up a 10-1 lead. A 12-4 UNCG burst put the Spartans back in it three minutes later, 14-13. Oleksiak and Kendall Toney each had a three-pointer to spark the run.
But the shooting woes came back shortly thereafter for UNCG. The Spartans managed just one field goal in the final nine minutes of the half. UNCG finished the dismal first half just 5-for-19 from the floor – just a shade above its season low of 5-for-20 at Virginia Tech back in December. The 19 field goal attempts tied a season-low for the Spartans, equaling that of the opening half at Elon. However, going 9-for-14 from the free throw line, UNCG hung around to the intermission, trailing the Catamounts, 25-21, at the break.
A 15-0 run early in the second half, gave UNCG its first advantage of the night. In that run, the Catamounts went 6:20 without a basket. Hines gave UNCG the lead, 32-31, with 14:40 to play on a drive down the left side of the lane. The following possession, the Spartans forced a shot clock violation – a signal that the momentum had shifted. Then Kendall Toney knocked down his third three of the night and the Spartans looked to be gaining control.
The Catamounts rallied with a run of their own. Trailing by 10 with 4:53 left, Western scored seven of the next nine to get within 56-51 with 1:27 to play. Richie Gordon, however, missed the second of two free throws and the Catamounts had to foul. UNCG made its next four free throws – two by Dwayne Johnson and two by Mikko Koivsito – to stretch the lead back to nine with 46 second to play.
UNCG guard Dwayne Johnson, the third of UNCG’s three seniors, moved into fourth place on the school’s career assist list. He had six assists on Monday night to give him 419 for his career, passing William Powell (1982-86). He is now two behind Derrick Nix (1993-97) for third place.
FREE THROWS: The UNCG student section found a new way to show their support for All-America candidate Kyle Hines on Monday night. Hines, who received five stitches after Thurdsay’s win over Chattanooga, had a bandage on his right cheek to protect the stitches. So, in a show of solidarity, so did a good number of the UNCG students... It wasn’t the best of night’s for Mikko Koivsito. But he did manage to make one three-pointer to extend his streak to 22 straight games. It also tied him for second place on the UNCG single-season list with Scott Hartzel’s senior season (1995-96) at 76. Hartzell also holds the top spot with 93 in his junior season (1994-95)... Western Carolina didn’t attempt a free throw until there was 3:10 left... One sequence summed it up for UNCG on just how they had to grind out Monday’s win. A ball going out of bounds, saved from going out by a sprawling Hines, rolled to Toney, who flipped to Johnson at the free throw line, who found Oleksiak cutting to the basket... The win gave UNCG 10 or more home wins for the third time in the last four seasons.
UNCG 60, WESTERN CAROLINA 55
WESTERN CAROLINA (10-20, 6-14)
Jake Robinson 8-15 0-0 19; Arnold Gore 5-13 2-2 12; Richie Gordon 5-5 1-4 11; Negus Mckenna 2-5 1-2 5; Eric Wilson 1-7 2-2 4; Brigham Waginger 1-3 0-0 2; Blake Gallagher 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 23-52 6-10 55.
UNCG (18-11, 12-8)
Kyle Hines 6-12 5-8 17; Kevin Oleksiak 5-10 2-2 14; Kendall Toney 3-4 0-0 9; Ben Stywall 3-5 0-1 6; Dwayne Johnson 1-4 4-4 6; Mikko Koivisto 1-3 2-3 5; Pete Brown 0-0 2-4 2; Davor Galic 0-3 1-2 1; Daniel Oliver 0-1 0-0 0; Landon Clement 0-1 0-0 0; Darrius Sellers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-43 16-24 60.
Halftime: Western Carolina 25-21. 3-point goals--Western Carolina 3-16 (Jake Robinson 3-8; Arnold Gore 0-2; Negus Mckenna 0-3; Eric Wilson 0-2; Brigham Waginger 0-1), UNCG 6-17 (Kendall Toney 3-4; Kevin Oleksiak 2-5; Mikko Koivisto 1-3; Davor Galic 0-3; Dwayne Johnson 0-2). Fouled out--Western Carolina-Brigham Waginger, UNCG-None. Rebounds--Western Carolina 35 (Negus Mckenna 12), UNCG 26 (Kyle Hines 8). Assists--Western Carolina 11 (Jake Robinson 4), UNCG 10 (Dwayne Johnson 6). Total fouls--Western Carolina 21, UNCG 16. Technical fouls--Western Carolina-None, UNCG-None. A-1440
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