UNCG falls at Georgia Southern 86-78
STATESBORO, GA – Elton Nesbitt, the Southern Conference’s leading scorer, had a season-high 36 points to offset Ricky Hickman’s eighth 20-point game of the season as Georgia Southern held off UNC Greensboro, 86-78, in SoCon men’s basketball action Saturday night at Hanner Fieldhouse.
Jimmy Tobias added a career-high 17 points for the Eagles (13-7, 4-3 SoCon), who snapped a three-game losing skid.
Hickman, a junior from Kernersville, NC, who is third in the SoCon in scoring, led UNCG (10-11, 3-4) with 26 points. Sophomore forward Kyle Hines added 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Spartans, his Southern Conference-leading seventh double-double of the season. UNCG was hampered by 17-of-30 free throw shooting and 25 turnovers.
It was the first time UNCG had lost when leading at the half since March 2004. The Spartans had won 23 consecutive games when leading at the half over the last two seasons. UNCG’s last loss when leading at the break was on March 3, 2004 against Wofford in the Southern Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
UNCG started slow, missing eight of its first nine from the field. Elton Nesbitt’s second three-pointer of the game at 12:43 gave the Eagles an early 12-4 advantage. UNCG cut into the deficit and got it back to four a couple of times, but turnovers on back-to-back possessions helped a 6-0 run as the Eagles opened up their first double-digit lead of the night, 23-13.
The Spartans battled back to take the lead, however, late in the first half. UNCG went on a 16-3 run over the last 4:25 of the half to go into the locker room with a 39-35 lead. Brian Beckford knocked down a three-pointer from left wing, followed by a breakaway lay-up by Kevin Oleksiak off an in-bounds to cut the margin to one. After another scoreless possession by the Eagles, Hickman hit a runner from the right side of the basket and was fouled as he converted a conventional three-point play with 1:06 left. That gave UNCG its first lead of the night, 36-34.
Hickman converted another conventional three-point play with 22 seconds left before half to give the Spartans a four-point lead at the break and Hickman his 19th straight game scoring in double figures. Along with Hickman’s final six in the run, Oleksiak also had six points in the spurt.
Georgia Southern opened the second half with an 11-3 run, capped off by a conventional three-point play by Louis Graham, to regain the lead at 46-42.
Hitting 7 of their first 12 shots of the second half from the field, the Eagles opened up the lead to seven. Sean Olivier’s three-point play made it 52-45 with 14:31 to play.
The Georgia Southern lead hit 11, 61-50, before UNCG went on an 8-1 run to get back in it. Hickman knocked down a three-pointer and then fouled on a three-point attempt, making two of three at the line, to cap the spurt.
UNCG cut it to 64-62 with 5:52 to play on a David McClenny jumper before the Eagles rattled off eight straight to regain control. The Spartans got back to within five in the closing seconds, but could not pull any closer.
The Spartans stay on the road to take on the Terriers of Wofford in Spartanburg on Monday night. Game time is set for 7 pm.
SIDELINES: After starting the game 1-for-9 from the field, UNCG made 15-of-21 from the floor the final 14 minutes of the half... The Spartans got a lot of help on Friday and Saturday in the Northern Division race. Elon lost at Davidson on Friday night, Chattanooga lost at College of Charleston, on Saturday afternoon and Western Carolina lost at Wofford... Hines surpassed the 750-point mark for his career on Saturday night... Hickman also extended his string of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 16 straight... UNCG is now 3-2 all-time in Statesboro. Georgia Southern leads the series, 6-5... The Eagles, who came in shooting a conference-best 39.9 percent from the floor, shot just 4-for-15 from three-point range. UNCG entered the contest with the worst 3-point field goal defense in the league at 40.2 percent.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN 86, UNC GREENSBORO 78
UNC GREENSBORO (10-11, 3-4)
Hickman, Ricky 8-21 9-13 26; Hines, Kyle 10-14 2-5 22; Oleksiak, Kevin 3-14 2-6 10; McClenny, David 3-6 2-4 8; Johnson, Dwayne 1-2 2-2 4; Simmons, Everson 1-2 0-0 3; Beckford, Brian 1-1 0-0 3; Tooms, Bart 1-4 0-0 2; Akinosho, Matt 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-65 17-30 78.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (13-7, 4-3)
Nesbitt, Elton 11-22 11-12 36; Tobias, Jimmy 7-13 2-2 17; Graham, Louis 5-10 3-5 13; Gennie, Donte 3-9 3-4 9; Olivier, Sean 3-7 1-3 7; Dunn, Will 1-2 2-4 4; Salazar, Diogo 0-0 0-0 0; Houston, Courtnei 0-0 0-0 0; Foreman, Dwayne 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 30-64 22-31 86.
Halftime: UNCG 39-35. 3-point goals-UNC Greensboro 5-21 (Oleksiak, Kevin 2-7; Beckford, Brian 1-1; Simmons, Everson 1-2; Hickman, Ricky 1-7; Tooms, Bart 0-1; Johnson, Dwayne 0-1; McClenny, David 0-2), Georgia Southern 4-15 (Nesbitt, Elton 3-10; Tobias, Jimmy 1-2; Gennie, Donte 0-3). Fouled out--UNC Greensboro-Hickman, Ricky, Georgia Southern-Olivier, Sean; Graham, Louis. Rebounds-UNC Greensboro 43 (Hines, Kyle 13), Georgia Southern 43 (Graham, Louis 16). Assists-UNC Greensboro 15 (Johnson, Dwayne 5; Hickman, Ricky 5), Georgia Southern 15 (Foreman, Dwayne 4; Gennie, Donte 4). Total fouls-UNC Greensboro 23, Georgia Southern 23. A-3178
- UNCG -