Stywall's career night leads UNCG past Georgia Southern
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Behind Ben Stywall's 30-point, 11-rebound effort, UNC Greensboro built a 20-point second-half lead and had to hang on down the stretch as the Spartans defeated Georgia Southern, 81-79, on Monday evening at the Greensboro Coliseum in the regular season finale for both teams.
UNCG wrapped up the regular season with 7-22 overall and 6-12 in the Southern Conference. The Eagles fell to 9-22 this year and 6-12 in the league. With the win, the Spartans secured the fourth seed in the North Division and will face the South Division's fifth seed Furman at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Friday in the quarterfinal round of the Southern Conference Tournament at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C. Georgia Southern will face third-seeded Chattanooga, which won a tiebreaker over UNCG after finishing in a tie for third, at approximately 9:30 p.m. Friday.
Stywall scored a career-high 30 points and added 11 rebounds as he and five other seniors walked off the court for the final time as winners. Before the game began, Stywall, Mikko Koivisto, Kendall Toney, Pete Brown, Montel Smith and Mike Hardiman were honored for their final home game wearing a Spartan jersey.
The double-double by Stywall was the 14th of the season for him, which tied him with Kyle Hines for the most in a single season. Already the school-record holder for rebounds in a season, his 11 rebounds gave him 300 for the year. He scored 19 of his points in the first half - the most by a Spartan since Kevin Oleksiak's 20 in the opening half against Central Arkansas on Jan. 2, 2008. Stywall made 10 of his first 11 from the floor and finished the night 12-of-15.
His 11 rebounds also gave him 939 for his career, moving him into second place on the UNCG career list. He passed Bruce Shaw, who had 933 from 1968-73.
Koivisto added 12 points to be the only other Spartan in double figures. He knocked down a pair of three-pointers to give him 50 on the season, making him just the third Spartan to make 50 or more in each of his four seasons. He joined Jay Joseph and Scott Hartzell in that select trio.
Anonio Hanson led a trio of Eagles who scored in double figures. Hanson finished the game with 20 points on 6-of-15 shooting, while Colby Wohlleb and Willie Powers added 18 points and 15 points, respectively.
Georgia Southern came into the game as one of four teams in the nation allowing better than 50 percent from the floor this season at 50.8 percent. UNCG finished the night shooting 51.6 percent, including a blistering 60.6 percent in the opening half.
After leading 45-37 at the half, the Spartans led by nine with 15 minutes remaining the game. UNCG then went on an 11-0 over the next four minutes to take a commanding 63-43 lead.
But after going 26-for-36 from inside the arc to build that lead, UNCG was just 4-of-11 inside two-point range to close as Georgia Southern rallied. The Spartans also made just 10-of-21 from the free throw line in the second half, including 6-of-12 in the final two minutes.
A three-pointer by Hanson with just over 10 minutes remaining sparked a 9-0 run by the Eagles to pull them within 63-52 with eight minutes left. Georgia Southern wasn't able to get it to single digits until Hanson's three-pointer with 55 seconds to play.
After Kyle Randall made 1-of-2 at the line with 45 seconds left to make it 77-70, Powers cut it to five with a lay-up 10 seconds later. The teams traded single free throws on their next possessions, and Stywall then hit 1-of-2, as well, to make it 79-73.
Colby Wohlleb missed a three-pointer from the left wing, but got a second chance off the offensive board and knocked it down to cut it to 79-76 with 14 seconds left. Randall made 1-of-2 again with 12.8 seconds left and the Eagles' Antoine Johnson followed with a lay-up to make it a two-point game with 6.2 seconds left.
Again, Randall made just 1-of-2 to leave the door open. This time, UNCG fouled Ben Drayton with 1.6 seconds left going after a loose ball. Drayton made the first and intentionally missed the second. The rebound went to Georgia Southern's Tyler Troupe, but his outlet to the wing for a potential game-winning three-pointer was intercepted by Randall and time expired.
The Spartans controlled the game from the opening tip, as the only time they trailed the entire game was at 5-4. UNCG continued to dump it inside to build its advantage as the first 20 points scored by the Spartans were in the paint. In fact, 36 of UNCG's 45 first-half points were in the paint on the way to a season-high 52 paint points.
The Spartans went on an 11-4 midway through the opening stanza to take a 23-14 lead on a layup by Stywall. That was the biggest lead the Spartans would hold before the break.
The Eagles fought back with an 11-2 run though to knot the game at 25-25 on a free throw by Willie Powers coming out of the under-eight media timeout. UNCG immediately took the lead back on a jumper by Toney and eventually stretched its lead out to eight points by halftime, 45-37, scoring 10 of the final 16 points to close the half.
UNCG 81, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 79
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (9-22, 6-12 SoCon)
Antonio Hanson 6-15 2-2 20; Colby Wohlleb 5-10 4-4 18; Willie Powers 4-12 7-9 15; Antoine Johnson 3-5 0-2 6; Ben Drayton 1-7 4-6 6; Rory Spencer 2-4 1-5 5; Tyler Troupe 1-3 3-4 5; C Baskerville 1-1 2-2 4; Sandy Perry 0-0 0-0 0; Johntavious Rucker 0-2 0-2 0. Totals 23-59 23-36 79.
UNCG (7-22, 6-12 SoCon)
Ben Stywall 12-15 6-10 30; Mikko Koivisto 4-8 2-3 12; Kyle Randall 3-11 3-6 9; Korey Van Dussen 3-5 1-2 7; Brian Cole 3-3 0-0 6; Pete Brown 2-5 1-2 5; Montel Smith 1-1 2-4 4; Darrius Sellers 2-2 0-2 4; Kendall Toney 2-11 0-0 4; Deangelo Jackson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-62 15-29 81.
Halftime: UNCG 45-37. 3-point goals--Georgia Southern 10-28 (Antonio Hanson 6-13; Colby Wohlleb 4-8; Ben Drayton 0-4; Willie Powers 0-3), UNCG 2-15 (Mikko Koivisto 2-6; Kyle Randall 0-2; Korey Van Dussen 0-1; Kendall Toney 0-6). Fouled out--Georgia Southern-Rory Spencer, UNCG-Mikko Koivisto. Rebounds-Georgia Southern 33 (Rory Spencer 6), UNCG 43 (Ben Stywall 11). Assists-Georgia Southern 13 (Willie Powers 9), UNCG 15 (Kendall Toney 6). Total fouls--Georgia Southern 25, UNCG 28. Technical fouls--Georgia Southern-None, UNCG-None. A-3566
FREE THROWS: Stywall, who now has 1,222 career points, will likely become the first player in the SoCon to average a double-double in nine years. He is now averaging 14.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game... In contrast to Stywall's 300 rebounds in 29 games this season, Chattanooga's Niccheaus Doaks and Andrew Lovedale of Davidson both reached 300 in the 35th game last season... Stywall and Toney broke the UNCG record for consecutive games played on Monday, playing in their 120th straight contest. Jay Joseph had played in 119 in a row. They also tied Kyle Hines' mark for games played in a career in the process... Hines was the last player to score 30 points in a game, doing so in 2008... Stywall now has 26 double-doubles for his career, one behind Demetrius Cherry for second place all-time... Brandon Evans did not dress for Monday night's game after contracting a stomach virus overnight. He is day-to-day... Koivisto is also now tied for second in career three-pointers with Joseph at 261.