SPARTANBURG, SC – Johnson Arena continued to be UNC Greensboro’s nightmare on Saturday night as Wofford’s Drew Gibson provided the late heroics yet again to beat the Spartans, 66-65, in Southern Conference men’s basketball action Saturday night.
Gibson, a senior from Los Angeles, CA, hit a three-pointer from the left wing with four seconds left to seal the win for Wofford. Gibson scored six of Wofford’s 13 points in overtime last year to beat the Spartans in Spartanburg. Two years ago, he scored eight points in the second overtime to send UNCG to a crushing defeat at Johnson Arena.
All-time, the Spartans are now 3-8 on Wofford’s home floor.
That offset a late surge by Kyle Hines, who scored 10 points in the final 11 minutes to lead the Spartans (3-4, 0-1) back from a one-point deficit to an eight-point lead with less than three minutes to play. Hines, a senior from Sicklerville, NJ finished the night with 19 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks. But UNCG scored just five points in the final five minutes, missed a pair of key free throws down the stretch and it was Gibson who once again had the final shot and made it count.
Ben Stywall was the only other Spartan in double figures with 11 points.
Shane Nichols finished with a game-high 20 points, while Gibson added 17 points for the Terriers (4-2, 1-0). Noah Dahlman also had a double-double for Wofford with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Neither team shot particularly well in the opening half. Wofford shot just 28 percent from the floor, including just 3-of-19 inside the three-point arc in the first half. Meanwhile, UNCG shot 36 percent from the floor and struggled again from behind the three-point line at 2-for-8 in the opening period.
The Spartans took the first sizable lead of the night, 12-4, with a 10-0 run, capped off by Daniel Oliver’s conventional three-point play. Oliver, a freshman from Orlando, FL, scored a team-high nine points in the opening half.
UNCG opened the lead up to 10, but Nichols, in his first game back from injury, pulled the Terriers back into it. He scored 10 of Wofford’s first 14 points, including all seven in a 7-0 run that cut into the 10-point UNCG advantage.
Wofford got to within a point late in the half, but a runner by Kevin Oleksiak at the buzzer gave the Spartans a 30-27 advantage at the break.
Wofford tied the game three minutes into the second half on a three-pointer by Matt Estep from the left corner. After a UNCG bucket by Kendall Toney on a put back, Estep, who was also returning to the line-up after missing the first five games with an injury, gave Wofford its first lead since the opening minutes with another three-pointer from the exact same spot, 39-38.
The Spartans used an 8-2 spurt, capped off by a Hines put back on a missed free throw, to regain a five-point lead, 46-41, midway through the second half.
The lead hovered around there until the five minute mark when Koivisto knocked down a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Spartans a 60-51 lead.
Nichols cut the deficit back to four, 60-56, with 2:48 to play when he got loose for a trey from the right wing. Hines, who set a school record with his 89th career game in double figures and extended his nation’s longest double figure scoring streak to 57 straight, scored his seventh field goal of the night on the next possession and then added a pair of free throws after a Wofford turnover to give UNCG an eight-point lead with 1:55 left.
But that was when it started to turn sour. Gibson scored five points in 14 seconds on a three-pointer and then a steal and bucket in full court pressure to make it 64-61 with 1:22 to play.
Hines missed the front end of a one-and-one to keep it a one possession game. After a Terrier miss and offensive rebound, Wofford called timeout with 38.1 seconds left. Gibson scored on a drive with 25.1 seconds left to cut it to one.
Against Wofford’s 1-2-1-1 full court pressure, the Spartans got the ball in-bounds three times in the sequence of a timeout, a jump ball that went to UNCG on alternating possession and another timeout – their last – that ran a shade over 10 seconds off of the clock. UNCG then got the ball into Ben Stywall, who threw it off of a Wofford player out of bounds to take two more ticks off the clock.
Finally, on the next try, the ball got into the hands of point guard Dwayne Johnson, who was fouled with 11.3 seconds left. He missed the first of two free throws and made the second to make it a two-point game. But Gibson had one more chance and knocked down the winning three-pointer with four seconds left. A desperation shot by UNCG was not off in time and the Spartans had suffered their third straight defeat.
UNCG will take a break for final exams and return to action next Saturday when it hosts Furman at 7 pm.
FREE THROWS: Saturday’s game marked the second straight season that Wofford and UNCG opened conference play against each other... Hines went over the 1,700-point mark for his career on Saturday night and moved into second place on the Southern Conference’s career blocked shot list. It was also the 34th double-double of his career... UNCG is now 6-5 in SoCon openers since joining the league in 1997-98. The Spartans had won their SoCon opener each of the last four years.
WOFFORD 66, UNCG 65
UNCG (3-4, 0-1 SoCon)
Kyle Hines 7-16 5-6 19; Ben Stywall 5-10 1-2 11; Mikko Koivisto 3-8 0-0 9; Daniel Oliver 3-5 3-3 9; Kevin Oleksiak 3-6 0-3 7; Kendall Toney 3-9 0-0 7; Landon Clement 0-0 2-3 2; Dwayne Johnson 0-3 1-2 1; Pete Brown 0-0 0-0 0; Davor Galic 0-1 0-0 0; Darrius Sellers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-58 12-19 65.
WOFFORD (4-2, 1-0 SoCon)
Shane Nichols 7-18 2-3 20; Drew Gibson 6-10 2-3 17; Noah Dahlman 5-8 2-3 12; Matt Estep 2-4 0-0 6; Tyler Whatley 3-5 0-0 6; Junior Salters 1-9 0-0 3; Terry Martin 0-5 2-4 2; Corey Godzinski 0-0 0-0 0; Drew Crowell 0-0 0-0 0; Norm Nixon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-60 8-13 66.
Halftime: UNCG 30-27. 3-point goals--UNCG 5-17 (Mikko Koivisto 3-6; Kendall Toney 1-4; Kevin Oleksiak 1-1; Davor Galic 0-1; Daniel Oliver 0-2; Ben Stywall 0-2; Kyle Hines 0-1), Wofford 10-24 (Shane Nichols 4-10; Drew Gibson 3-4; Matt Estep 2-3; Junior Salters 1-7). Fouled out--UNCG-None, Wofford-None. Rebounds--UNCG 38 (Kyle Hines 17), Wofford 39 (Noah Dahlman 10). Assists--UNCG 15 (Mikko Koivisto 5), Wofford 15 (Junior Salters 6). Total fouls--UNCG 16, Wofford 19. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Wofford-None. A-1013.
- UNCG -