Hot shooting, balanced scoring lead UNCG past Elon, 89-72
ELON, NC – UNC Greensboro had all five starters score in double figures, led by Mikko Koivisto's 22 points and Ben Stywall's third consecutive double-double, to top backyard rival Elon, 89-72.
Both teams came into the game with 1-4 marks in league play, but a win could get either right back into a topsy-turvy Southern Conference North Division race with all six teams already suffering two league losses, including Western Carolina's loss at Chattanooga on Saturday night. The Spartans had a similar opportunity at home on Thursday night when they lost to Georgia Southern. They didn't let that chance slip away on Saturday, shooting a season-best 59.5 percent from the floor.
The win was UNCG's fifth straight over the Phoenix and the third straight win at Alumni Gym. UNCG had lost nine of its first 10 trips to Elon.
Stywall, a junior from Charlotte, NC, finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for his third straight double-double and fifth of the season. He has had four of the five double-doubles in UNCG's six league games this season.
Freshman Damian Eargle had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Spartans, while redshirt freshman DeAngelo Jackson chipped in with 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor. Sophomore Daniel Oliver added a career-high 12 points and five assists.
Elon also had five players in double figures with Ola Atoybei leading the way with 17 points, but was held to just two points in the final 16:30. Chris Long added 12 points and six assists for the Phoenix.
A 20-4 run midway through the second half broke open a 54-54 tie as the Spartans moved to 2-4 in conference play and 3-12 overall. Elon lost its sixth straight and fell to 4-10 overall and 1-5 in the league.
"I thought our guys bounced back well after a tough loss at home against Georgia Southern the other night," said UNCG coach Mike Dement. "For a while when we were really struggling, we only had one guy scoring in double figures. Tonight we had five guys and that's a big difference. We started out hot and knocked down some shots and played pretty well defensively. Jackson and Eargle played very well early, knocking down shots, and I think that gave us some confidence."
The Spartans got out to an early six-point lead, 13-7, but a 9-0 run by the Phoenix negated that. UNCG opened the lead back up to five midway through the half, however, with an 8-0 run of their own, 21-16. Leading by as many as eight in the opening half, the Spartans took a 39-34 lead into the locker room. UNCG's first half field goal percentage of 56.7 percent (17-of-30) was a season-best and the first time this year UNCG was over 50 percent in a first half.
UNCG increased the lead back to nine to open the second half after a four-point play by Koivisto. The Phoenix, however, scored 11 of the next 12 points to regain the lead and it looked like it could go back and forth the rest of the way.
But with the score tied at 54-54, UNCG scored on eight of its went on a 20-4 run, capped off by three straight three-pointers by Montel Smith, Kendall Toney and Koivisto to break the game wide open with six minutes to play. UNCG scored in eight out of 10 possessions during the six-minute span.
The Spartans return to action on Thursday night when they return to Fleming Gym to host Chattanooga. Game time is set for 7 pm.
UNCG 89, ELON 72
UNCG (3-12, 2-4 SoCon)
Mikko Koivisto 7-12 4-4 22; Damian Eargle 9-15 0-2 18; Ben Stywall 5-7 5-9 15; Daniel Oliver 2-7 7-10 12; Deangelo Jackson 5-5 0-0 10; Kendall Toney 2-4 0-0 5; Pete Brown 2-4 0-0 4; Montel Smith 1-2 0-0 3; Sean Spooner 0-0 0-0 0; Mike Hardiman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-56 16-25 89.
ELON (4-10, 1-5 SoCon)
Ola Atoyebi 8-12 1-1 17; Chris Long 5-12 0-0 12; Brett James 5-11 0-0 11; Tj Douglas 4-6 0-0 11; Josh Bonney 3-8 4-4 10; Drew Spradlin 3-5 0-3 9; Monty Sanders 1-3 0-0 2; Adam Constantine 0-0 0-0 0; Daniel Watts 0-0 0-0 0; Jon Ogolo 0-1 0-0 0; Devan Carter 0-5 0-2 0; Terrance Birdette 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-63 5-10 72.
Halftime: UNCG 39-34. 3-point goals--UNCG 7-14 (Mikko Koivisto 4-7; Daniel Oliver 1-3; Kendall Toney 1-3; Montel Smith 1-1), Elon 9-24 (Drew Spradlin 3-4; Tj Douglas 3-5; Chris Long 2-7; Brett James 1-5; Jon Ogolo 0-1; Devan Carter 0-1; Monty Sanders 0-1). Fouled out--UNCG-None, Elon-None. Rebounds--UNCG 37 (Ben Stywall 12), Elon 25 (Ola Atoyebi 6). Assists--UNCG 18 (Daniel Oliver 5; Kendall Toney 5), Elon 18 (Josh Bonney 7). Total fouls--UNCG 15, Elon 20.
Technical fouls--UNCG-Daniel Oliver, Elon-None. A-1450
FREE THROWS: DeAngelo Jackson and Damian Eargle both got off to good starts offensively in the first half, but then had to sit down after picking up their second fouls... Freshman forward Elhanan Bone was back in street clothes on Saturday night after banging his shoulder in practice late Friday. He is listed as day-to-day... Koivisto waisted little time getting the point he needed to get to 750 in his career, knocking down a three-pointer in the first minute of the game... UNCG shortened its rotation on Saturday night, playing just seven players for most of the game. Montel Smith moved into the rotation as the eighth player after Oliver picked up a technical foul in the second half and was a big part of the decisive 20-4 run. UNCG entered the game with 10 players averaging double-digit minutes... Elon opponents had shot 48.6 percent from the floor in the previous five games prior to Saturday night... The last time UNCG had five players score in double figures was December 15, 2007 against Furman. It was the first time since January 22, 2005 that all five starters scored 10 or more points – a 78-68 win at The Citadel.
- UNCG -