Season-best shooting night lifts UNCG past Georgia Southern
STATESBORO, GA – Junior forward Mikko Koivisto came off the bench to score a career-high 26 points, including 17 in the second half, as UNC Greensboro defeated Georgia Southern, 84-76, in Southern Conference men's basketball action Saturday night at Hanner Fieldhouse.
The Spartans led wire-to-wire for the win, snapping a six-game losing skid by shooting a season-best 59.6 percent from the floor (31-for-52). Koivisto was 7-of-9 from the field, including 5-of-7 from three-point range.
Junior forward Ben Stywall also had 23 points for UNCG (4-18, 3-10 SoCon), shooting 11-of-16 from the floor. Freshman forward Damian Eargle had his second double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 6-for-9 from the floor.
Antonio Hanson and Ben Drayton each had 21 points. Sandy Perry added 14 points for the Eagles (7-15, 5-9) and Tyler Troupe had 17 points.
The Spartans played probably their best opening half of basketball this season, shooting 62.1 percent from the floor (18-of-29) and getting production from both the inside game and the perimeter. UNCG got out quick, forcing the tempo on the Eagles and scoring the first nine points of the contest. The lead extended to 20-7 on a floater down the lane by Daniel Oliver with 13:44 to play in the opening half.
UNCG's offense slowed briefly as it scored just seven points in the next eight minutes, but the defense kept Georgia Southern at bay. But a quick 7-2 spurt by the Spartans, sparked by Koivisto's third trey of the half, gave UNCG a 35-21 lead with 5:30 left in the half.
The Eagles made a late run and closed to within six, however, at the first-half buzzer on Tyler Troupe's tip-in to make it 42-36 at the break. But that would be the last Eagle basket by someone other than Hanson for the next 7:40.
A pair of treys by Hanson in the first 90 seconds of the second half drew the Eagles to within two, 44-42, and forced an early UNCG timeout. The Spartans responded with an 18-3 run, though, capped off by a Stywall breakaway that put him over the 20-point mark for the second time this season. The run lasted nearly six minutes and gave the Spartans their largest lead to that point at 62-45.
The Eagles pecked away and got it back under single digits on a Drayton's 15-footer, 71-62, with 7:58 to go. The Spartans extended the lead to 14 again, but Georgia Southern hung in there and a trey by Drayton got the margin back to nine with five minutes left.
The Eagles got to within five with 1:44 to play on a pair of free throws by Drayton, 81-76. UNCG's Pete Brown was fouled on the ensuing possession and knocked down a pair to take the lead back to seven with 1:08 left.
Hanson missed a runner in the lane on the Eagles' next possession and the Spartans were able to run out the clock from there.
UNCG continues its five games in 10 days swing with a home game against Wofford on Monday night at 7 pm.
UNCG 84, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 76
UNCG (4-18, 3-10)
Mikko Koivisto 7-10 7-8 26; Ben Stywall 11-16 1-4 23; Damian Eargle 6-10 3-4 15; Montel Smith 3-6 2-6 8; Daniel Oliver 2-3 0-0 5; Elhanan Bone 1-2 1-2 3; Kendall Toney 1-4 0-0 2; Pete Brown 0-1 2-2 2; Deangelo Jackson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-52 16-26 84.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (7-15, 5-9)
Antonio Hanson 7-18 0-0 21; Ben Drayton 6-12 7-9 21; Tyler Troupe 6-9 4-7 17; Sandy Perry 6-11 2-4 14; Kenith Ward 1-3 1-2 3; K Janiszewski 0-0 0-0 0; Anthony Marshall 0-0 0-0 0; Jeb Brannen 0-0 0-0 0; Colby Wohlleb 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 26-58 14-22 76.
Halftime: UNCG 42-36. 3-point goals--UNCG 6-13 (Mikko Koivisto 5-7; Daniel Oliver 1-1; Damian Eargle 0-1; Kendall Toney 0-3; Ben Stywall 0-1), Georgia Southern 10-19 (Antonio Hanson 7-13; Ben Drayton 2-2; Tyler Troupe 1-1; Colby Wohlleb 0-3). Fouled out--UNCG-None, Georgia Southern-Colby Wohlleb. Rebounds--UNCG 35 (Damian Eargle 12), Georgia Southern 21 (Tyler Troupe 8). Assists--UNCG 12 (Montel Smith 5), Georgia Southern 14 (Ben Drayton 7). Total fouls--UNCG 23, Georgia Southern 19. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Georgia Southern-None. A-2001
FREE THROWS: The Spartans had to double-check their scouting report for Saturday's game this week after Georgia Southern sat three players down for violation of athletic department policies, including two starters. The Eagles had already lost Willie Powers to a knee injury the week before the first meeting between the teams... Elhanan Bone, playing in front of family members in his return to his home state, returned to the starting line-up on Saturday night. Bone had missed nine of the last 10 games due to a pair of injuries, but returned to play eight minutes against Davidson on Thursday night... Mike Dement gave Kendall Toney a start coming off the strong performance Thursday night, making for the 15th different starting combination this season. With that, however, UNCG has 10 players averaging 14 or more minutes per game and only two of those playing more than 25 minutes a night (Stywall and Koivisto).
- UNCG -