Spartans rally, survive OT to run win streak to five
IRVINE, CA – Despite seeing UC Irvine rattle home a jumper at the buzzer to force overtime, UNC Greensboro got a career-high 20 points from Lakiah Hyson and controlled the extra period to pull out a 76-71 win over the host Anteaters at the Orange County Clash on Sunday and run its win streak to five games.
With the Spartans (6-5) holding a 63-61 lead with 2.2 seconds to go in regulation, UCI (3-7) inbounded the ball and got it into the hands of freshman Kiara Belen, whose jumper in the lane hit the back rim and went off the glass and in as time expired.
UNCG didn't fold, as Gini Grimsley hit a layup on the Spartans' first possession in the extra frame to put UNCG back on top. The Anteaters answered with a pair of Belen free throws to tie it up before a Hyson layup put UNCG up 67-65. Rebecca Maessen converted a layup of her own to tie it again, but Hyson hit a 3-pointer from the wing to put the Spartans ahead to stay.
With the clock dwindling under two minutes, UCI started to foul, but the Spartans struggled to convert, going just 6-for-13 in OT to leave the door open for the Anteaters. A Grimsley free throw with 30 seconds left gave UNCG its biggest lead of the extra period, 73-67, but UCI's Keyonna Johnson sandwiched a pair of buckets around a Hyson free throw to draw the Anteaters within three at 74-71 with 5.1 seconds to play.
UCI then put Grimsley back on the line to stop the clock, and the senior knocked down both free throws to lock up the win.
Grimsley finished with 10 points on the day, while sophomore Monique Floyd dropped in 14, just one off her career high. Hyson had six of her 20 points in the overtime period.
"Hyson is just tough," UNCG head coach Lynne Agee said. "She can take the pressure. She can take the big shot, and that's what we love about her. She makes it happen and she's not afraid to pull the trigger."
From the early going, this game had all the hallmarks of going down to the last possession, and it didn't disappoint. The Anteaters led by five at the half, 36-31, and expanded their lead to nine, but the Spartans came roaring back. Kendra Smith, Hyson and Floyd had consecutive buckets in a 6-0 run that got UNCG back to within three, and the Spartans refused to let the Anteaters pull away.
Down three at 46-43 with 13:20 play, the Spartans saw Dee Corbett hit a jumper and a layup around a Raquel Theus basket to draw UNCG within one.
After an Amanda Leigh missed 3, Smith grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled going back up for the stickback, putting her on the line with a chance to put UNCG ahead. Smith hit both of her attempts, putting the Spartans back on top for the first time since holding a 19-17 lead midway through the first half.
UCI would reclaim the lead and stretch it back to four, but UNCG always had an answer, and Floyd's jumper with 3:28 left put the Spartans ahead for good until Belen's jumper at the end of regulation.
The Spartans took excellent care of the ball, finishing the game with a season-low 11 turnovers – only three of which came in the second half and overtime. UNCG forced 22 turnovers by the Anteaters, converting them into 27 points.
"We're thrilled to death," Agee said. "We were flat, we didn't have much legs. This was about guts, determination. We ran out of gas. I'd hoped we'd win it in regulation, so I was a little nervous when it went to overtime. I was afraid maybe we didn't have enough left, but we played great."
Maessen scored a game-high 22 points for UCI, while Kirian Ishizaki had 12 and Mary Has had 11.
The game was a physical one with a combined 53 fouls called, and UCI had three players foul out. The Spartans were also battling foul trouble, as Grimsley and Agne Girstautaite both picked up four.
Grimsley was playing in her 100th career game for the Spartans.
The five straight wins are the most for UNCG since a six-game streak from Feb. 3-19, 2007. UNCG will attempt to match that streak when it faces Illinois State in the championship game of the Orange County Clash at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time Monday. The Redbirds downed Western Michigan, 82-51, in Sunday's early game.
UNC GREENSBORO 76, UC IRVINE 71
UNC GREENSBORO (6-5)
Lakiah Hyson 5-12 9-11 20; Monique Floyd 5-9 4-6 14; Gini Grimsley 3-7 3-6 10; Amanda Leigh 3-9 1-2 9; Kendra Smith 3-9 2-2 8; Dee Corbett 3-4 0-0 6; Agne Girstautaite 2-5 0-2 4; TaShama Banner 0-2 3-4 3; Sarah Folwell 1-2 0-1 2; Ashley Mullins 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-60 22-34 76.
UC IRVINE (3-7)
Maessen, Rebecca 6-17 8-8 22; Ishizaki, Kirian 3-4 6-7 12; Has, Mary 4-9 1-4 11; Belen, Kiara 2-2 3-4 7; Barnes, Kim 1-3 4-6 6; Theus, Raquel 2-5 2-2 6; Johnson, Keyonna 2-4 0-2 4; Cochran, Kelly 1-4 1-2 3; Johnson, KaJahna 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-48 25-35 71.
UNC Greensboro................ 31
32 13 - 76
UC Irvine..................... 36 27 8 - 71
3-point goals--UNC Greensboro 4-14 (LEIGH,Amanda 2-5; Gini Grimsley 1-3; Lakiah Hyson 1-3; TaShama Banner 0-1; Ashley Mullins 0-1; Monique Floyd 0-1), UC Irvine 4-7 (Maessen, Rebecca 2-4; Has, Mary 2-3). Fouled out—UNC Greensboro-None, UC Irvine-Has, Mary; Ishizaki, Kirian; Maessen, Rebecca. Rebounds--UNC Greensboro 33 (Gini Grimsley 7; TaShama Banner 7), UC Irvine 40 (Ishizaki, Kirian 7; Has, Mary 7; Maessen, Rebecca 7). Assists—UNC Greensboro 10 (Lakiah Hyson 3), UC Irvine 14 (Maessen, Rebecca 5). Total fouls--UNC Greensboro 25, UC Irvine 28. Technical fouls—UNC Greensboro-None, UC Irvine-None. A-159
- UNCG -