Spartans open Italy tour with a pair of wins
SIRMIONE, Italy – UNC Greensboro’s basketball teams opened their tour of Italy with a pair of wins over professional teams on Wednesday, the men defeating Ignus, 88-69, while the women’s basketball team opened their 10-day tour of Italy with a 77-69 win over Italian Division 2 team New Polibasket San Bonifacio.
In the women’s game, the Spartans had three players in double figures led by senior KaLeah Latham, who tied her career high with 19 points. Sophomore Gini Grimsley tallied 16 points and junior Brittany Frazier, who tallied eight points in the third quarter alone, ended up with 11 points.
The Spartans, who spent most of the morning traveling from Lake Como to Sirmione and spent the day touring nearby Lake Garda, opened the game with a 9-0 run sparked by free throws from Latham. The local professionals were able to get back in the game with some quick shooting from the three-point line and were able to cut the Spartan lead to one with just over four minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
New Polibasket took the lead after that, but Grimsley proved to be a key component off of the bench. Coming into the game late in the first quarter, she rattled off three consecutive buckets, including a three-pointer, which helped the Spartans stay close as the first quarter came to a close, trailing 21-16.
The Spartans tried to rally early in the second quarter. Frazier scored the first points on a quick inside jumper, but the locals were able to rattle off back-to-back three pointers to take a four-point lead just minutes into the quarter. UNCG senior guard Jasmine Byrd hit her lone three pointer of the day to put the Spartans within striking distance. Freshman Lakiah Hyson was able to get the Polibasket lead to a manageable three points with a jumper from the right side. Still, the Spartans trailed at the break, 45-37.
But in the third, UNCG came alive, outscoring the home club 26-12. With NewPolibasket holding a 52-49 lead early in the third quarter, Kristen Boone used her quick hands to produce a steal and a layup to give UNCG its first lead since the early moments of the game. NewPolibasket wouldn’t go away and managed to hit some jumpers on the inside. However, a charge from Boone and a steal from Irene Otamiri gave UNCG a 61-57 lead going into the final frame.
In the fourth, the locals stayed close throughout, but UNCG scored the last four points of the game to pull away and pick up its first win of the three-game tour.
In the men’s game, the Spartans turned away Ignus, an Italian Division 2 team behind 28 points by UNCG’s All-America candidate Kyle Hines. Guard Mikko Koivisto, a native of Vantaa, Finland, chipped in 13 points in his return to Europe as the Spartans also began their three-game tour on a winning note in a game played in Lake Como.
UNCG’s women will continue the tour with a game Thursday in Venice. The Spartans will take on Thermal Abano in their second game in Italy at 5 pm local time. The men’s team has off on Thursday.
- UNCG -